Moloch and his followers had picked up the trail of the negative psions and headed in their direction, toward the southlands. What was thought to be no more than a journey of a few days extended into weeks. The source of the dark energies grew stronger day by day, and yet Moloch's band knew they were still leagues from their destination. Whatever it was, it was powerful enough to be felt almost half a planet away.
Moloch stood upon a boulder looking across a ravine at the jungle below. The wind was harsh this day and whipped at his head-tails violently. Recently, the dark energies had suddenly lessened considerably, and he had lost the trail. There were still mild emanations coming from various directions, but he was unable to get a lock on them and had sent two of his warriors to investigate the last direction in which he had sensed them. Ganath and Taranon were approaching from the south to tell him of what their scouting mission had uncovered.
"Moloch, there is a base near a functional Warp Gate far to the south. It is guarded by both Protoss... and Terran," Taranon said.
Moloch was surprised. "Terran?"
"Yes. It is Praetor Fenix and his Terran ally," the brutish Ganath replied.
Moloch thought for a moment. He had been traveling by foot on his homeworld for the first time in centuries for a seemingly endless number of days. No battles to fight. No orders to give or take. Just pure freedom. But it would end now. It was time to take on his responsibilities... and his burdens.
"Prepare to move out."
Jim Raynor was pouring himself a cup of coffee in the Rec Room of the Command Center as the blurred shadow moved swiftly into the room. Catching the movement out of the corner of his eye, Raynor swiveled and drew his gun.
"Who's there?" he said to the nothingness.
From behind, a psionic blade materialized as it hit the weapon from his hand and the gun clattered to the floor. An enormous four-fingered hand grabbed hold of him knocking the coffee cup from his other hand. It fell to the floor and shattered as the blade was drawn to his throat.
"I mean you no harm."
"You got a funny way of showin' it, pal!" Raynor yelled as he struggled.
The owner of the hand materialized as he released Raynor from his grip.
"I am Moloch, Dark Templar and bodyguard to the Prelate, Zeratul. My apologies but I do not wish our presence to be known here yet, and could not risk entry by normal methods."
Raynor looked the Protoss over.
"All right, I'll bite. What do you want?"
"I was sent on a mission by the Prelate on the morning of the attack on the Conclave. I have had no news of the war on the Conclave or the Zerg since that time. I want information."
"Yeah, I think I remember you. The guy with the starin' problem. You better sit down cuz there's a lot to fill you in on and I'd still like to finish my cup of mornin' coffee."
"Very well," the Dark Templar replied.
"I'd offer you some, but unless yer gonna take a bath in it, I doubt it'd do you any good." Raynor chuckled.
Moloch did not reply.
Raynor went on to explain the trial of Tassadar, his eventual sacrifice to destroy the Overmind and how Zeratul had aided in its destruction, and the resulting chaos of rampaging broods left behind in its wake.
"And now the survivors are on your homeworld, Shakuras," Raynor finished.
"Shakuras is not my homeworld," Moloch replied.
Raynor eyed him quizzically but left the matter alone. "That thing you were looking for, the dark energy source. A Judicator from Antioch snuffed out some sort of psi cocoon not too long ago. Apparently it'd been there for quite a while. Maybe that was what you were looking for."
Moloch nodded. "Perhaps." It had coincided with when he had lost the trail, and was certainly plausible, but the energies were still there to a smaller degree. He would need to speak with the Judicator of Antioch.
They were interrupted by a communiqué from Fenix.
"Raynor, the Zerg have surrounded the base again!"
Raynor stood up and looked at Moloch. "This ain't your battle but we could sure use some help. The Zerg attack every few hours in progressively bigger waves."
Moloch rose to his full height and ignited his blade. "We will aid you in your fight, Terran."
Days later, Moloch and his Dark Templar band continued their journey toward Antioch.
The Antioch Chronicles™ © 1998, Eric Dieter & Ruben Moreno. All rights reserved. The Antioch Chronicles™ trademark and associated logos are the exclusive property of Eric Dieter & Ruben Moreno. Characters and distinctive likenesses thereof, character names, item names, place names, named events, artwork and all other related material not disclosed herein are protected under the laws of the United States of America and other countries. Any reproduction, retransmission, or unauthorized use herein is prohibited without express written permission.
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