Monday, February 25, 2013

I, Zergling

Format:  short story

I, Zergling
M.R. Michel

Warmth spread outward from his chest, down into his limbs, and upward into his hunting talons.  It was strength-warmth, battle-warmth, mind-warmth.  Around him, he felt his brethren responding to the call, shivering in the ecstasy of the hive-mind.  It was a near dizzying feeling, far surpassing even the joy of the hunt.  Zz’u’le cocked his head and opened his mouth, letting his fangs gleam in the swiftly fading twilight of Tyrador VIII.  He rattled his hunting talons and hissed.
Kal’u’le, his egg-brother, heaved his ochre body up off of the floor and ran one of his legs in a half-circle to indicate readiness.  When Zz’u’le had first emerged from his egg, the world shifting in tones of browns and grays, his first sight had been Kal’u’le, still egg-wet and dripping viscous mucus.  Zz’u’le had been fragile then, weak, his hunting talons shaking with the new weight of existence.  He had looked out at the desolate world of Char and had known then the rigor of the hive-mind, the all-encompassing joy of victory and completion.  He had known what it was to be zerg.
The zara of zerglings spread out at a silent command, their running talons scraping into the soft, brown earth.  Off in the distance a chain of mountains still glittered in the stretching marionettes of twilight, dirty snow forming a languid cape that strung its length over narrow peaks.  Tyrador IX was framed as a low-hung orb in the sky, stretching into its crescent phase. 
The zerglings allowed a column of empty space to form between them.  A line of slimy-green, recently spawned banelings took up position inside of the formation, their bulbous abdomens throbbing with concealed power.  Zz’u’le looked on, clacking his front two running claws together.  Kal’u’le noticed his egg-brother’s behavior and lowered his head.  The thought slammed into Zz’u’le with accustomed force.
Soon soon patience valor egg-brother nest-brother lifelong mind-friend! 
Zz’u’le was about to reply, but the hive call reached out and gripped him and threw him forward and then they were sprinting, their feet barely touching the ground and their running legs going whisk! whisk! over the cracked and rugged terrain.  From somewhere not far off he heard the elated call of the hunter-killer, their commander, and then all wandering thought receded and Zz’u’le was left only with the lust of battle.
The barricade was strong, a fifteen-foot high wall of steel and concrete that the Terrans had constructed out of fear.  A glaring siren lit the night and Zz’u’le could see figures moving on top of the battlements.  The sound of gunfire echoed as he threw his slender body against the wall, attempting to scale it.  He heaved his body upward, Kal’u’le beside him, but his running talons could not grasp the slippery surface.  He leapt another few feet, his hearts churning with adrenaline, but then fell downward.
The call of the hive-mind was suddenly lucid.  He sprang backward, hissing at the obstacle in front of him, and waited.  The strain of banelings rolled by, their hooks digging deep into the soil to gain purchase and to propel their throbbing bodies forward.  Someone on top of the wall was calling out, and the few Terran soldiers tried to shift their aim from the flickering bodies of the zerglings to the new threat.
Hit with gunfire, one of the rolling zerg ruptured, and verdant mucus sprayed an unfortunate ally.  Zz’u’le felt his anger grow as his brother fell forward, acid eating through his outer carapace.  The dying zergling let out a high-pitched shriek.
The rolling wall of death slammed into the barricade, gouts of steaming-hot acid leaping forward to eat through solid steel.  The fortress doors, which had stood for years as silent sentinels overlooking the nearby valley, dissolved.  Cracks spread further down the wall, and in one place the wall sagged, portions of concrete springing off to reveal twisted metal bars. 
Zz’u’le leapt forward, his eyes swiveling in both directions.  It was there, stronger than ever now, the battle-warmth, the lust-warmth, the need to gorge and gorge and feed.  Saliva dripping freely from his gaping mandibles, he kept low to the ground, alert to any potential threat.
A Terran heaved itself up from behind a pile of rubble, its maroon frame blocking out light from above.  Kal’u’le had seen it first, and with a cry of rage threw himself at the monster.  It heaved a metal weapon into position, grabbing it with two forward arms, and pulled the trigger.  Gouts of waving orange fire sprang from the nozzle, igniting Kal’u’le in a funeral blaze.  The zergling shrieked in madness and in pain.  The fire was engulfing him now, but he threw his dying body forward, hunting claws outstretched toward the enemy.  The hunk of charred flesh bounced off of the Terran’s armor, but for a moment it obscured its vision.  That was all the diversion that Z’zu’le needed.
His attack came sweeping in from the right, a whirling dance of lethal claws and blinding speed.  The Terran’s armor ate the first sweeping claw, leaving a deep gash.  Then Z’zu’le was on top of him, clinging to the side of his body like a larvae to life-blood.  He knocked the Terran’s weapon to the side and stabbed forward with his left hunting claw into the creature’s helmet.  It writhed in pain, dying synapses still haphazardly firing and attempting to bring the weapon around to finish the brother of Kal’u’le off. 
Z’zu’le did not let it succeed.  He jerked his talon back and forth, creating a frothy red soup in the Terran’s helmet.  He used his other claw to rip a wide hold in the shattered glass, and then bent his muzzle downward.  He felt the warmth of blood flood over his tearing teeth.   In a growing frenzy he ripped away another morsel of flesh, barely chewing it.  Then he proceeded to feed.
Sometime later, he was satisfied.  He sat back on his haunches and looked at the scene around him.  Zergling and Terran corpses alike lay strewn on the battlefield, their limbs askew in odd mockeries of life.  Near him, two brothers were feeding on another corpse.  One had managed to rip open the Terran’s suit of armor, and their heads were buried deep in its chest cavity.
As the battle-warmth slowly sloughed off, Z’zu’le felt only weariness.  Kal’u’le was gone.  He tried searching for his egg-brother’s body, but it had been consumed by the angry blaze of the monster’s weapon.  He let out a keening wail, screaming at the unmoving Tyrador IX high in the sky.
He did not have long to mourn, as the hive-mind invaded his senses once more and a series of images flew before him.  A life-mother flying overhead had located two survivors huddled on the rooftop of an abandoned building.  They would not be easily reached, however.  The door to the structure was sealed shut, made out of the same material as the outside shattered wall.  Z’zu’le saw a new pattern forming in his mind.  He shivered with pure joy.  It was his time.  He had been chosen!
The life-mother hovered high overhead of him, lowering its sacks and spewing life-blood over him.  He felt the slimy brown mixture engulfing him, and shivered.  Then the life-mother flew onwards, laying down a continuous highway of life-blood.  Soon now.  It was time.  He coiled in a fetal posture, hugging his running talons to his chest.  A deep, inner chemical battle began to consume him, and he felt his body changing, morphing.
A thin, leathery hide began to cover his altering body.  He was returning to the egg once more.  He closed his eyes and focused on what was happening inside of him, the transcendence that would soon set his body and mind free.  He saw shades of verdant-green, blue-green, and forest-green.  They swirled and mixed together, shifting like the undulations of a life-mother’s body as it roamed the skies.  He felt his former life fading, but he clung to it for one more moment.  His last thought, as he embraced his new role in the hive-mind, was triumphant.
  Egg-brother mind-friend brave-hero! Your hunger shall not go unfed!

I hope you enjoyed reading this.  Your thoughts are welcome!

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