I may be abusing forum space here (and a lot, at that) since the following piece of fanfiction is NOT in any way related to RPGs. Instead, it is inspired by the Starcraft universe, a real time strategy game by Blizzard many of you I am sure are deeply familiar with.
So, although it is not directly "synced" with this forum's state of mind, I wanted to post it here in order to get some quality feedback from people whose opinion I value instead of the Blizzard forums where I am not even a member. I hope you enjoy it and feel free to comment as harshly as you see appropriate.
I have broken it down to parts due to its size and included a brief side-note as an introduction to Starcraft's basic lore for those who are not familiar with it or just want to refresh their memory. Here goes:
A brief introduction to the world of Starcraft
In Starcraft, events take place in a distant part of the galaxy and involve the ongoing struggle of three races for supremacy: the Terrans represent the future, technologically advanced version of today's humans, capable of great heroics but also prone to corruption and internal conflict; the Zerg are insectoid xenomorphs in pursue of genetic perfection, achieved through assimilation of other species; finally, the Protoss are -roughly- humanoid aliens, inclined to bring balance to the galaxy by making use of their psionic abilities and superior technology.
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“This is a present from a small, distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts and our feelings. We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours.”
— U.S. President Jimmy Carter
He checked the calendar one more time: it was still stuck on the 25th of May. Somehow, months didn’t matter down here but days did. His shoulder still hurt from last night’s sleepwalking accident – storage cabinets always hit harder than they look. It had bumped open upon contact, for the first time since bloody forever. Upper shelf contents: three dexedrine bottles, a portable chessboard, two packs of dramamines left from his d-day on Kalos a lifetime ago and his now-obsolete shaving kit. Middle compartment: three pistol clips, two empty beer bottles, his old boxing gloves and a couple of postcards. Zoom in there: Miami, USA with a bikini girl lying on the beach eclipsed by a grinning, hairless goon, standard Hollywood style. The next postcard gave more grief: an old-fashioned window with a blue shutter and a potted plant with red flowers. A woman’s hand was watering the plant. Sergeant Lambert had found him half-crying in the showers, his shoulder bleeding casually. A toilet cabin door was swinging on one hinge. He locked eyes with him and flushed the postcards down the toilet. Lambert said: “You are tougher than I am, commander.” He did not respond. The incident didn’t leak.
He was still reluctant to face his men. He was still wondering if they had flushed their postcards already or if they were still holding hope of return. Somebody knocked; he removed his legs from the desk and downed a pickup shot of tequila before encouraging them to come in.
“Sir capitan, the breakfast is served and the boys are hoping for another exciting tale to make the food look plentiful.”
“Food for thought doesn’t multiply the bread, corporal, only miracles do.”
“Then we will also hold a prayer beforehand, commander. You are still the only one who knows the holy words.”
Coulhart smiled. “Somebody ought to keep you boys on the straight path and I am the only one who used to be a boxer.”
The kakaru eggs were one week old – someone had even suggested letting them hatch and make youngling stew. Damn things were really hard to catch once they reached adult age and that was within two months since birth. Lambert was absentmindedly piling his scrambled eggs with a fork. The head chair was empty – the incident hadn’t leaked. One of the boys was wearing a “The United Earth Directorate Gives YOU a Second Chance” T-shirt. He recited the holy words. Eight sets of ears were listening to him. Seven sets of eyes were watching him – Lambert was still piling eggs. He speared a piece of concentrated cheese: “We need to fix the toilet door. I don’t mind a little fresh air when taking a leak but we’ve got to consider our lady’s privacy. See to it Corporal.” Vernon nodded: “I will if you give us one of your digestive tales of yore, mon capitan.”
“Fair enough. But this one might actually ruin your appetite. - ”
The refectory intercom crackled: “Commander Coulhart, there is action here in the transmitters. It seems kind of urgent, so I suggest that food-poisoning should wait.”
Most female shuttle pilots-turned-ground telecommunications operators were of the standard “burping woman” variety. Gail was a heart breaker. She was wearing safari shorts and tight tops and made them count. Coulhart walked on her lying back cross-legged and fixing her hair with her cigarette-free hand. She noticed him and brought the chair upright, deliberately slow.
“I still don’t understand how you pull this off.”
“Keeping my legs shaved when we’re almost out of drinking water?”
“No, keeping the boys at bay after more than 18 months of sexual deprivation.”
“I can discipline myself, commander.”
Coulhart laughed. “Most of these men are ex-convicts. Hell, some may have been rapists back home.”
“Are you saying our men are without dignity, commander?”
“I am saying they are without hope. And men without hope should not be expected to act responsibly.”
She stubbed out her cigarette and turned to the console. “Let’s give them some hope then. We received an incoming transmission from a UED Battlecruiser. They asked for the commander of this Bunker.”
“Let’s hear what they have to say.”
Gail patched the transmission through. There was heavy static – the call was long distance.
“Is this the Bunker commander?”
“This is Jeremy Coulhart. Who is this?”
“Hardly appropriate for a platoon commander to address himself as a civilian, wouldn’t you say, Mr. Coulhart?”
“Hardly a platoon left here to command. Is this call on official capacity?”
“It is. This is Admiral Gerard DuGalle from the UED fleet.”
“Should I bother to secure the line or are you simply calling to ask how many Vulture mines got rotten this week, admiral?”
“I am more interested in men getting rotten, commander. I’ve got a job for your team and the status report we have from two months back is hardly reassuring.”
“Who gave you that status report? This Bunker has been without contact for at least six months now.”
“We haven’t lost interest in you, Mr. Coulhart, I hope you still haven’t lost interest in yourselves either. There is a very delicate mission I want you to undertake.”
“Our sensors picked up a signal of a probe orbiting your position for the last 68 hours. We have recently lost track of it and it is important to us that you found out why. The probe is unmanned but contains intelligence of great significance.”
“Potentially. It is highly probable that the probe crash-landed on your planet and is heavily damaged. You must retrieve it and secure its contents, if possible.”
“Any hazardous material we should be aware of?”
“Suppose we don’t find it. What’s the worst that could happen?”
“You could remain stranded there for an unhealthy amount of time.”
“What exactly is the content of this probe?”
“Your ticket back home, commander. And, possibly, a healthy dose of cosmic blanco to help correct some of history’s mistakes.”
“I thought history doesn’t make mistakes. Those who write it won’t allow any.”
“A lot of people attempt to write history at any given time, Mr. Coulhart. It is a matter of good marketing and getting a publisher first that makes all the difference.”
“Admiral, I understand you didn’t choose my team because of our level of readiness.”
“You chose us out of desperation. You chose us because there was no one else in the area. Who do you think is looking for the probe?”
“Maybe nobody. Maybe everybody.”
“Suppose we return it safe upon a fluffy, red pillow with a silky, gold lace.”
“Your crimes cannot be overwritten completely, commander, but they can certainly be made to look less significant. We will do everything within our power to provide you and your men a ride home.”
“I hope your space shuttles are more reliable than your probes.”
“Retrieve the probe, commander. We both know you and your boys would appreciate an early retirement back on Earth.”
“Actually, we’d appreciate a case full of cold beer more.”
“I shall expect an update on your mission within the next 8 hours.”
“Make it 10, we just finished breakfast.”
“Good day, commander.”
“Good day, sir.”
He missed his postcard terribly.
Coulhart returned to his cabinet for the pistol clips. The visit didn’t sting one bit -weird. He thought to take a tour of the dormitory. Depressed Lambert was nowhere to be found – someone said: “The kid looked plenty quiet, last I saw him”. There was something colourful sitting on Lambert’s bunk: an issue of NewsLater, one of the two magazines still on printed format – bathroom reading never grew out of fashion. Dig the cover: ‘Feature: Why being a Ghost just isn’t for Most’. Inside, full page ad: ‘Protoss hair style – Where to get it and why’. The corner of “helpful tips”: ‘Party (c)rushing: How to zerg parties with your friends and create a mess!’
He put the magazine down and left the dorm plenty quiet.