// Chapter 1: Invasion// Story: Starcraft: Infestation of Equus.// by ZarPaulek//------------------------------//
Equine date: Summer Solstice 1004 R.C.
Terran date: November 20th, 2504
Deep within one of the deep pits where the Swarm spun together DNA strands from the species they consumed in their unending quest for perfection the Queen of Blades consulted her master of evolution, "you say that you have something to show me?" she inquired of the spindly-limbed creature before her.
Abathur paused a few seconds before answering, nervously waving his lower pair of arms, "new species encountered by one of your Brood Mothers, advanced metamorphic abilities, can assume the appearance of other species with sufficient precision to deceive the keenest sensory organs developed by the Swarm."
"So assimilate them already, don't bore me with these mundane matters."
"The few samples acquired badly degraded, their strands seem highly unstable. Thus far unable to obtain more. Difficult to detect."
This got Kerrigan's attention, that kind of tactical advantage was invaluable if the gene-weaver could recover their DNA. But she doubted that any of her Brood Mothers had enough tactical sense to find such creatures if they could hide like that. "Very well then." The Queen of Blades reached out through the Hive Mind of the Zerg Swarm to a seemingly untouched garden world.
"Planet Equus, uncolonized by Terrans or Protoss, found by Brood Mother Kilysa using Confederate data files, several native species of interest." As Abathur droned on visions of the planet's fauna flashed before Kerrigan's mental eye, leonine creatures covered with spines, three-headed hydras, flying reptilians the size of Overlords but with much obvious offensive weapons, ursines taller than Dominion skyscrapers. "Changeling species, malleable physical structure, can assume appearance of other species to infiltrate enemy forces." A black chitinous quadruped with gossamer wings and a single horn on its head approached a group of furred quadrupeds then in a burst of green flames assumed the appearance of one of the furred ones.
"Most useful." Kerrigan reached out and commanded a Leviathan in orbit to launch a Sac towards the clearing where the changeling had appeared. The creatures ran as they saw the bulging vessel fall towards them but were not fast enough to outrun the swarm of zerglings that emerged when it burst. The beasts' genetically engineered adrenal glands pumped stimulants as they chased down the defenseless animals and tore them to pieces. As gore flew there was a sudden burst of green and six zerglings suddenly became seven. "Halt," Kerrigan commanded and the zerglings stopped eviscerating helpless wildlife, "the Changeling must have transformed to look like one of the zerglings, but which one is the fake?" She commanded the zerglings to move to the north, then to the west, then south. As they ran she noticed one was slow to respond, she moved each of them in different direction and the slow one just looked confused then scurried off to the east, in the opposite direction as the command she had sent it. "Kill that one." The real zerglings pounced on the impostor and tore into it, the fake's shapeshifted armor and claws proving to be nothing more than ineffectual imitations. In a last ditch attempt to save itself it assumed its natural form and tried to fly away but the Zergs ripped off the thin membranes leaving it helpless as they devoured it alive.
"Essence extracted, sequence is incomplete." Abathur's monotone seemed almost disappointed. "Physiology suggests eusocial reproductive behavior, must find queen."
"Kilysa," the Queen of Blades reached out to her subordinate, "deploy an Infestor and a couple Overlords and Mutalisks to this location and give me direct control over them."
"Your will shall be done my Queen," the Brood Mother replied as the flyers descended on the clearing and disgorged a hulking creature with many pulsing sacks of fluids growing from its back.
"Excellent, now then, let's go hunt down another one." The new units joined the old ones and moved down a well-worn path in the forest, soon the Overlords spotted a village filled with the quadrupeds they had seen earlier. "The last Changeling seemed to like these creatures, there could be another one here." The Mutalisks opened with a flurry of glaive worms that cut through the wooden structures like they were flypaper and dismembered several of the local creatures before they could flee in terror. The Zerglings followed, swiping at anything too slow to escape them while the Infestor spewed immobilizing fungus. Then one of the Overlords spotted it, a green flash and an extra Zergling, like before Kerrigan ordered the Zerglings to scatter, but instead of killing the one that did not respond this time she ordered the Infestor to spit a neural parasite into it instead. The false Zerg flailed and screeched as a long tentacle sprang forth and burrowed into its skull then the Changeling appeared to calm down and changed back to its true form. "Good, now let's see where your hive is." One of the Overlords picked up the paralyzed Infestor controlling the Changeling and the Zerglings piled into the other, the Changeling was directed to return to its home while the Infestor was kept within tentacle's reach.
The Zerg flew behind the infested creature as it came to a ruined city, many of the wrecked buildings covered with something resembling a green hardened mucus. The Changeling flew towards a castle overlooking the city, the only land route being a narrow winding path up the mountain, the Overlords deposited their living cargo on the small clearing in front of the castle's front gate. "Break it open." The Zerglings clawed at the hardened gates, but the material coating it resisted their blades for many minutes before they finally broke through.
No sooner had the castle gates cracked than a swarm of hundreds of pseudo-insectoids swarmed out of the opening, not even bothering to transform they overwhelmed the Zerg with nothing more than their horns and teeth. The Zerglings killed them by the score before they managed to take off but they were still hopelessly outnumbered, the helpless Infestor was slaughtered and the Changeling it had been controlling flew away in panic. "I guess we'll need those reinforcements after all." Kerrigan added wryly as a Nydus worm burst out of the ground and started disgorging Hydralisks which started shooting Changelings out of the sky as more Mutalisks descended on the emerging hive. Finally a larger creature came out, her horn notched and crooked, her legs pocked with holes like Swiss cheese.
"Queen detected," Abathur stated as the large one appeared, "sensing large essence concentration, complete sequence." Suddenly a beam of green energy lanced from the point of her horn through a line of Mutalisks, raining gore on the city below. The Zerg scythed through the Changeling swarm but their matriarch resisted the attacks, blocking some with a shield composed of that same energy she attacked with and simply shrugging off others. As the lesser Changelings perished the Zerg began to concentrate fire on the queen, many spines and worms were blocked and the queen's beams destroyed many Zerg but eventually her shield gave out and she was suddenly hit by hundreds of biological ranged weapons, tearing a hole through her right flank and sending her twitching carcass crashing to the ground. The surviving Changelings watched as their queen disappeared into the ventral sacs of an Overlord then flew off before they could suffer the same fate. "Essence obtained, spinning strands."
The next day
Princess Twilight Sparkle stood on the podium at the Ponyville town center addressing a crowd of frightened townsponies. "Listen up everypony!" She yelled, using a bit of the Royal Canterlot Voice Luna had taught her to quiet the squabbling in the crowd. "I don't know much about what attacked Ponyville while we were at the Summer Sun Celebration in Manehattan" she gestured to Applejack, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, and Rainbow Dash standing behind her, flanked by a pair of unicorn guards, "I have no idea why Daisy says that they slaughtered her friends and then ate a Changeling that had been posing as one of them, while reports from survivors of the attack on Ponyville proper state that a Changeling led them away, or something. But I've placed Royal Guards armed with spears, spells, and ballistae at every access point to the town in case of another attack."
A brown earth pony at the far edge of the crowd spoke up. "So all the guards are at the edges of the town except for those two with you?"
Twilight wondered why somepony would ask that of all questions. "Yes."
"Excellent." Suddenly the ground started shaking, fracture lines appeared concentrated near the pony who had spoken. Other ponies started running around in panic, the guards knelt and pointed their horns towards the brown pony.
Twilight's mind raced as she tried to make sense of this new turn of events. A spell she had developed shortly after her brother's wedding came to mind and she created an expanding hemisphere of purple aura. When the aura hit the odd pony he convulsed in pain, then seemed to implode for a second and then turned a sickly purple color and sprouted spines and wicked looking claws and a face full of jagged teeth.
Applejack charged forward to get a closer look, "he was a Changeling?"
"No," Twilight replied, "he can transform like a Changeling but doesn't look much like one." She lifted the monster up with her magic. "I-" she was cut off as the creature suddenly liquified and poured onto the ground in a sticky puddle, "did not do that."
The ground where the transforming creature had been standing burst open and a gigantic worm-like creature emerged, it turned its large head towards the princess, opened its mouth and spat out a roughly pony-sized predator, two scythe blades sprouting from its armored back. Then another one followed, then another, then a smaller worm with a pair of blades on long appendages below its head.
Rainbow Dash took off and yelled loudly "Chaarrrgge!" then flew straight into the growing tide of teeth. Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and Rarity followed, Pinkie blasting aliens away while the others pummeled them with hooves. Fluttershy tried to hide behind one of the guardponies. Twilight and her honor guard stood there and flung bolts of force at the invaders, knocking them back but doing little lasting damage.
"This isn't doing any good!" Twilight shouted to her friends, "their shells are too hard." She raised her head, spread her wings, and launched herself into the air. Every one of the monsters on the field glowed with her lavender aura and was lifted into the air, gathered together into a big ball, then shoved them all into the worm's mouth.
Pinkie Pie couldn't help but giggle a little, "looks like he bit off a bit more than he could chew."
The world's youngest alicorn wasn't done yet though, she spread her aura over the massive worm's head and started pulling upwards. The beast lurched upwards five meters, ten meters, twenty, then there came a loud ripping sound and the worm came all the way out of its hole, pouring blood and entrails. She lifted it half a mile above Ponyville and then let it and the creatures inside it fall onto a clearing near the Whitetail woods.
"Is it over?" Fluttershy poked her head out from behind the guard she had been hiding behind.
Rainbow Dash evidently did not agree with her sentiment. "Already? But I was just getting started?" As she turned towards Twilight the princess got a good look at her, she was covered in gashes streaming blood and her right wing was limp at her side, a large barb sticking out of it. "Come on, let me go after them."
"Not until after we get you to a hospital Rainbow Dash."
The cyan pegasus glanced at the wounds covering her body, her eye fixating on the crippled wing. "Oh." And then she collapsed.