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    by Gordoni Valducci

    Lenny and Ralph sat at the mess-table, discussing the day’s events. “Damn cannon training is a bitch man, I swear Lenny, they better give me my damn tank soon so I can get into the damn field instead of this damn training, dammit!”. “Yeah I knows what ya mean Ralph, as soon as my Vulture training is done I wanna get the fuck outa this damn camp, and I don’t care how big and advanced it is, it blows!”.

    Lenny and Ralph continued their discussion, while a few Ghost trainees walked into the mess hall. The Ghosts gathered a lot of attention, seeing as how Ghost trainees are rarely ever seen, let alone in the general mess hall. The three of them went and sat at a table in the back corner. Shortly thereafter, Gerald Tarrant walked in, sitting down a ways from Lenny and Ralph, but at the same table.

    “Hey” Ralph yelled to Gerald “Aren’t you the new guy? Yeah, you’re the new technician guy, uuuuuhh Gerry right?”. Lenny and Ralph scoot down towards Gerald, curious as to his exact duties here. Gerald was a mildly tall man, about five ten, blonde hair with a bit of gray showing up. He was built unlike a typical technician, with broad shoulders, looking as if he could hold his own in a fight. He was wearing standard civilian clothing as if he had never been to an official military base.

    “Actually it’s Gerald, and you are?” Gerald extends his hand. “Hi…” Ralph takes a big spoonful of slop and shoves it in his mouth loudly “name’s Ralph, this here’s Lenny, nice to meet ya. So what is it you’ll be doin round here?”. Lenny and Gerald shake hands, then Gerald turns back to Ralph “well to be honest I’m not sure. I’m not a high level technician, but then I got the orders to come here for a top secret assignment and I got high level clearance, all the higher-ups treat me great now, I mean I used to just write code. Hey, I’m kinda worried about the Zer…” Lenny cuts him off. “Zerg? Nah they haven’t been doin much on this planet, I mean we’ve got a big skirmish goin on here, but you don’t need to worry about it none, cause this here’s the biggest training encampment on the planet, hell in this whole damn system, and ain’t nothin gonna happen”.

    Just then one of the Ghosts turns casually and sees Gerald. He taps the other Ghosts and they all rise and head over to where Gerald is sitting. One of the Ghosts approaches Gerald “Are you Gerald Tarrant?”. “Well yes, I had been told to just get something to eat and wait by the drill…”. “The Ghosts pull him up by his arms. “You need to come with us immediately sir, very high priority.” “Well I guess…”. Ralph stands up and Lenny also rises “Now you wait just a gal dern minute there, who do you…”

    The Ghosts escort Gerald out, completely ignoring Ralph. The Ghosts quickly escort Gerald to a large building in the middle of the camp. Gerald tries repeatedly to ask them questions, but is just ignored and pushed along. They reach a large door and one of them puts his key card in the slot on the side of the door, opening it. They hurry inside, no one stops them, and everyone looks hurried and panicked. The Ghosts quickly escort him through door after door, not stopping one second to speak or tell him what’s happening. They finally reach a lift and enter. The Ghost that seems to be leading this group types in a code on a keypad and the lift begins downward rapidly, passing over six floors before stopping. The lift door opens and one of the Ghosts directs Gerald to exit the lift, none of them making a move to follow or lead. Gerald hesitantly exits, seeing only a large room, with computers, tubes, and what seems to be frantic scientists’, carrying papers, and other various objects in a frenzy. “But where am…” just as he steps out the lift door closes and begins heading upward.

    Gerald moves forward slightly, looking around. An old man with glasses, who looks as if he’s searching for someone or something, spots him and yells “Finally!”. Gerald and the man advance towards each other and shake hands “Well hi, what exactly is this place?” “Oh I’m terribly sorry, those men have a lot to deal with, as do we come, come”. The man begins walking fast, yelling “Time to go!” all the scientists grab what they can, some having bags, cases and whatnot, and head in the direction of the old man. Gerald begins to follow, but suddenly the whole room shakes as if struck by something. The whole place is rumbling, things are toppling over, and one of tubes breaks. Gerald moves to avoid the liquid spewing from the crack in the tube. The old man turns and sees Gerald, and yells “Come, there’s no time!” Just then the tube bursts, and Gerald leaps out of the way of the fluid, unsure as to its origin. He gets up and turns, to see the liquid flow across the floor, and the body of a Zergling over it, stopping as it hits a desk. Gerald is stunned, and stumbles backward, he’d seen them in videos and whatnot, but never in person. The old man, before exiting a door at the other end of the room, stops and looks back. He shakes his and and murmurs “he could have stopped all of this” under is breath. He then enters the door, hitting a button on his way through. Gerald turns again only to see the huge doors close, he hears a locking sound.

    “Wha….what’s going on…” Gerald runs to the door, slamming on it. “What’s happening? HELP!”. It’s apparent that no one hears him, so he runs quickly to the lift. He hits the “up” button and waits, hearing it come down. He hears something stir behind him, he sins around. The Zergling is slowly rising, regaining its bearings and coming to. Gerald swears under his breath and continues to hit the “up” button. The Zergling continues to rise just as the door to the lift opens, Gerald speedily enters and hits the button to the main floor. As he heads up he slowly slides back against the wall of the lift, breathing heavily. Explosions can be heard now, and he begins making out faint screams. Just as he begins to hear these things, the door opens, and he is in the large main hall leading outside. He is horrified by what he sees. Marines firing at the doors, while huge Zerg creatures, from what he can tell Hydralisks, burst through. Some marines are preoccupied in the back of the room, fighting of two Zerglings that seem to be out for blood. Seeing that the door outside isn’t an option, he frantically looks around the room for an escape. He sees a large flight of stairs leading upward to the higher floors.

    Gerald makes a run for it, using all his strength to reach the stairs. Out of the corner of his eye he sees the marines being torn apart by the overwhelming Zerg forces. He makes it to the stairs and runs up, spotting a standard marine rifle on the way up. He remembers only them being referred to as Gauss Rifles, but he doesn’t really care. He grabs it and continues up the stairs. He hears more marines burst into the building below fighting the Zerg whom so recently wiped out so many men. He reaches the top and starts running down a hallway. He holds the gun as best he knows how, trying to remember his old basic gun training from the Academy.

    As he runs down the hall he can see that other people, base employees, are cowering in their offices. He glances in one and sees a man who is wearing similar attire to the scientists in the basement. He runs into the office. The man is in the fetal position on the floor, rocking back and forth, weeping. Gerald kneels by the man, and the man looks up at him. “T..Ta…Tarrant?” Gerald, holding his gun tight and listening as best he can to the situation downstairs, replies “How do you know me? One minute I arrive at the base, the next it’s being overrun by the Zerg, what’s going on?” The man sits up and wipes his eyes. “This base was used for secret testing on the Zerg, mainly to try and duplicate a sort of genetic code, the one that controls their fearlessness and fury. After sometime we deciphered a way to inject that specific genetic code into a human, giving him the traits of a, well, of a Zerg. But somehow the Zerg felt that we were doing testing, and for months we were afraid of an ambush. We had called you here to…” a loud scream is heard from downstairs, and more marines are heard, the scientist continues. “be used as a scapegoat, someone to take the fall for our failure, we had it all planned out. I’m so sorry, please don’t leave me, please…..”. Gerald stands, if anything more confused than before. Although he could understand the man’s babbling, and although he believed him, he just couldn’t understand how the Zerg knew of the experiments, and why did the base wait so long to try and evacuate? Then Gerald remembered that the only people who were seemingly prepared were the scientists, meaning the whole base was being slaughtered at this moment. The man continued to plead with Gerald not to abandon him, but Gerald heard a lot of movement downstairs, and no gunfire. He ran into the hall, and saw the shadow of a Hydralisk slowly advancing up the stairs. He looked behind him, and saw more stairs leading up.

    Gerald ran as fast as he could up the stairs, and saw a door at the top. He burst through and closed it. He heard the man scream and he cringed. He looked around him. He was in a long hallway. He starting running down the hallway, looking into the offices. They were all empty, as if abandoned long before this began. He had hoped they had at least made it out alive. He saw a lift at the end of the hall, so he ran and hit the up button, figuring that was his only means of escape. The Zerg had overrun the bottom floors so he was counting on the higher floors being clear of them. He hit the button and entered the lift. He hit the up button. As it began to rise, he heard a scratching noise and looked down. In his hurry he failed to notice a small hole in the lift’s floor in the corner. It looked big enough for a Zergling to fit through, given their agile bodies he figured. He then heard a hellish Zerg scream, and the whole tore wider. Gerald leapt back, but the Zerg cry got fainter, and he heard a crash of sorts. He looked down the whole only to see two Zerglings clinging to the shaft wall. They were climbing unbelievably fast up the wall, trying to catch the lift. Gerald pointed the rifle down the whole and blindly fired in their general direction. He looked back down to see one Zergling toppling over, taking out the other with it, it’s claw on one arm was blown off.

    The lift dinged and the doors opened and Gerald got out. He was on the top floor, about twelve stories up. He say a stairway leading up and figured it was to the roof. He decided it was his best chance. He ran to the stairwell and proceeded to head upward. He reached the top and went through the door. When he opened the door and walked onto the roof he was horrified by what he heard. Explosions were going off everywhere, some he could see in the distance. He saw tanks, being torn apart far away by Ultralisks and Wraiths swooping down only to be shot out of the sky by Hydralisks. He ran, gun in hand, to the edge of the building.

    He looked over, marines and civilians alike were running everywhere, trying their damnedest to keep out the Zerg infestation, but Gerald could see it was all in vain. He went to the other side of the building and looked over. He saw Ralph and Lenny, in their civilian clothing, on top of the mess hall, trying to keep the door closed, as it was being pounded on by some unknown Zerg creature on the other side. Lenny began to back off, holding a rifle at the doorway. “Lenny! Lenny what’s happening!”. Lenny, surprised, turned around and saw Gerald. “The whole damn camp is over run, thank god we were in the back of the mess hall, we were the only ones who had time to get up here, everyone else was messed up real good. How the hell did you get yourself up there?”. Gerald was worried “Watch the door they….” Just then the mess hall door burst open, and a Hydralisk claw burst through Ralph's head. Lenny opened fire on the other ones but it was too late. Gerald watched, horrified as Ralph and Lenny were torn into pieces.

    He turned away, and tears began to flow, Gerald felt trapped, he had nowhere to go and no where to hide. Then he remembered about the scientists, and how they fled into that room. Gerald decided it was his only way out, but he had no idea how to get in there. Then he got it, the Ghosts! They were in the building, if Gerald could just find one of the key cards then he might be able to get in the door. He wiped his eyes and ran towards the door. Just then he heard a loud screech and turned around. A huge Mutalisk was diving at him, he dove backward into a roll just as it flew over him. He got his bearings just as it was turning for another pass at him. He knew there was no way he could get to the door in time so he lifted his rifle and aimed at the flying beast. It screamed its demon scream and dove for him again. Gerald looked through the poorly fixed scope and tried to account for the angle. He fired. The bullets flew and everyone hit the Mutalisk, but it didn’t seem to be slowing down. Then it’s wings folded in and it crashed into the roof, knocking Gerald into the doorway. He grunted, then quickly got up and looked. The Mutalisk had impaled itself on a ventilation pipe, he saw one of it’s wings riddled with bullet holes. He smirked, opened the door, and went back down.

    As he went back down he tried to think of a way to get back downstairs. As he got to the bottom he looked down the hall, only to see two Zerglings looking at him. They arched their bodies, screamed, and charged for Gerald. He turned and ran back up the stairs as fast as he could. They were gaining quickly, he was almost to the door as they hit the stairs in a full sprint. He hit the door, ran through, and slammed it closed. He put his weight into the door just as the Zerglings slammed into it, he couldn’t hold them forever. He looked around and saw the dislodged ventilation pipe. He ran for it and slid, dislodged it from the Mutalisk and ran back. He slammed it against the door, hoping to cause enough friction to keep them out for a time.

    He ran to the side of the roof and looked down. There were still marines fighting the Zerg below. He saw a lot of Zerglings and Hydralisks, barely being kept at bay, and he knew the marines couldn’t hold them off for much longer. He looked back at the dead Mutalisk. Then Gerald got an idea. He grabbed the bullet-ridden wing and pulled as hard as he could, tearing it clear off the body. He ran to the edge and looked over, he knew he had to act fast. He estimated a landing zone, held the wing over his head, and leapt.

    Gerald glided for a small ways, then the wing tore and he fell the rest of the way, hitting hard. He caught his breath and stood. He was well over his estimate, and began running to the door inside the building he just escaped. A marine, fighting near where he landed was distracted by his fall, giving a nearby Hydralisk just enough time to lunge at him, easily dispatching him. The Hydralisk spotted Gerald and spit it’s putrid acid like fluid towards him. It hit Gerald’s arm. He screamed in pain, but didn’t stop running. He looked to see his skin in a small area of his arm bubbling and burning, it hurt like hell. He then realized as he leapt threw the already broken window, that he no longer had his rifle.

    He ran inside, looking around frantically. The Hydralisks here before had moved up to the higher floors, and the other ones were outside. He looked around the bodies on the floor, some so horribly torn apart he could hardly bear it. He found one of a Ghost, and frantically searched for the key card. He found it and stood up, and then he saw something not entirely encouraging. Gerald’s eyes opened wide, as an Ultralisk, not to far away, charged at Gerald. He ran to the lift hitting the button, the doors opened and he leapt in, typing the number on the card into the keypad. The doors closed and began down. The whole lift slammed back and he saw a huge dent form on the top of the lift. The lift began to plummet down the final two floors. Gerald was shot into the ceiling as the lift hit the ground. He tried to stand and gain his bearings. He looked up, and saw an Ultralisk’s dead eyes, dripping blood, staring at him. Some dripped on his face as he rose.

    He hit the “Open” button on the lift, but the doors only opened about half way. He pried them open the rest of the way. He limped out of the lift and continued to the door. He got to the door, slid the card into the identity pad on the wall next to the door and it slid open. He saw a small sign on the wall that read “Transports lead to Alpha 1 Lab for Evacuation”. Gerald smirked. He had made it. He headed to a transport.

    Just then he heard a small crash behind him. He turned, a computer monitor had been tipped over. Then he remembered, the Zergling he had seen earlier. The Zergling slowly appeared in the doorway, staring at Gerald. Gerald dropped the card and stared back. The Zergling seemingly grinned. Gerald sighed and closed his eyes. The Zergling Pounced.

    " "

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