The Terran Marines

"As a matter of fact, that will not be necessary."

Adrianna turned around to Athena in confusion, but before she could ask, the sensors in her armor picked up a sound coming in from beside them. Startled, she turned around and froze when she noticed a number of armored figures emerging from behind a line of trees and walking toward them. Who were they? Decima troops? But since when did Decima troops wear blue armor? And their armor didn't look like any of the types used by Decima forces. How long had they even been there?

Almost instinctively, she raised her rifle in their direction to shoot them first before they could shoot her, but Athena stopped her before she could open fire.

"No!" Athena shook her head. "They're friendlies!"

"Wait…what?" Adrianna stood still for a second, not too sure what to say. Friendlies? These troops didn't look like Imperials at all.

It didn't take long before the redhead found herself facing at least fifty of these troops. All of them looked almost identical to each other with their armor on. They all had large combat shields mounted on their left shoulder, and the guns they were wielding looked as unfamiliar to her as their armor. The shields implied the Naval Commando Legion or other ship-based infantry units, but again…none of this made any sense. As far as she knew, naval commandos didn't look like this at all.

"Sir!" One of the figures walked up to Athena and greeted her. "Awaiting orders, sir."

Athena nodded at the figure before turning to Adrianna again. She saw the confusion on Adrianna's face, and she didn't really have a good answer for her. Yes, she trusted Adrianna. She trusted Adrianna enough to try to free her from Imperial service and even show her some of her secrets, but that didn't mean she wanted to tell Adrianna about the Starcraft units. How would that conversation even go? I can summon units out of nowhere. How? I don't know, but also I'm actually from 1,700 years ago and these units are from a game I used to play. There was just no need for all the trouble. At least not now.

"It's complicated…" She simply stated. "I'll be honest. I don't have a good answer for you now. I just ask you to trust me one more time. I will get us out of here. I promise."

Adrianna paused for a second before looking into Athena's eyes. "We're not fighting for the Imperium anymore, are we?"

"No," Athena replied, staring back into her friend's eyes and giving voice to the words she had wanted to say for a long time. "We are leaving this world and the Imperium behind. I'm done fighting for an empire that sees me as an expendable slave, and from what I saw ever since we met, so are you."

Adrianna nodded gently. The last few seconds had been confusing, and she was still having trouble wrapping her mind around what was happening. That being said, this was an easy choice for her. She didn't know who Athena was working for or where these new troops came from, but as Athena said, she had no love for the Imperium. She had fought under the banner of Venya because she had no other choice, but now that an opportunity presented itself, she was more than happy to take it.

"As I said, I'm with you, Athena, whatever your plan is." She assured Athena.

Athena let out a smile and turned back to the 50 Terran marines she just summoned.

This was the first time she was deployed into combat in the months since Research Outpost Delta, but that didn't mean she was broke in terms of resources. In fact, she had built up quite a small bank thanks to what went down in the outpost. So many people died in that building. Loyalists in the 432nd. Traitors in the 432nd. Republic marines. Imperial naval commandos. Since Athena deployed roaches throughout the base, most of these deaths gave Athena resources.

When she first returned to Outpost Delta, Athena remembered her resource count was less than 100. That number became over 12,000 by the time she returned to 9A2-C-8. It had remained more or less since then, and after she summoned 50 Terran marines, her resource count was down to just a bit less than 10,000.

This was the first time she had produced and summoned Terran units, and she quickly realized Terran units worked a little differently than Zerg units. With Zerg units, she had a link to every single one of them. She could feel where they were and communicate her thoughts with them. There was a similar link between her and Terran marines. She couldn't communicate with them through it though, which meant orders had to be relayed with words. However, it seemed like there was something else she could do…

"Sir?" The leading Terran marine repeated. This was another area where Terran units were different. Unlike the Zerg, where only a few units were sapient, most Terran units involved human beings that were intelligent and aware of their surroundings. The marine knew Athena summoned him, and it was likely that meant there was a threat.

"Yes." Athena quickly shifted her focus back to her current situation. She gestured in a direction. "Two of you stay with me. Others go in that direction. There should be a number of hostile infantry units in light red armor with insignias on their chests that look like a lion. Take them out."

"Yes sir. Should we use stimpacks?"

"Negative for now." Athena shook her head. She had no medics yet and thus no way to heal the marines from the side effects of stimpacks. She also didn't think it would be necessary.

The marines nodded. Two of them walked to Athena and stood by her while the others spread out and advanced in the direction of the Decima pursuers. These Terran marines moved with a level of confidence that belonged to men who knew exactly what they were doing.

"Sir." One of the marines handed something to Athena. She looked down and saw what looked like an earpiece. Useful, but Athena looked down on her own power armor and sighed.

"Give it to me later." She instructed the marine. "Do you have comms to the others?"

"Yes sir."

"Ok. Update me on what happens."

As the two marines stood still beside her as her loyal sentinels, Athena closed her eyes and stood there for a second, focusing on the link between her and the Terran marines. She instinctively knew she could do something with it, but what? Wait…

Athena focused on the link she shared with one of the marines beside her, and all of a sudden she felt everything change. Things just suddenly became…different. She opened her eyes again and was amazed to realize she was no longer in the Imperial Indominated class power armor. Instead, she found herself inside what, as far as she could tell, was a Terran CMC power armor. She looked down and found herself holding a Terran C-14 gauss rifle. On her left, attached to her left shoulder, was a large blue combat shield.

That was when she fully realized what happened! She just became the Terran marine! Somehow, she just took over the marine's body!

To say she was amazed would be an understatement. Athena quietly tried to move her new body, and the Terran marine moved as she wished. It was truly an interesting feeling. The old Athena's body was far from short or frail, but this new body made her feel taller and stronger than she ever was. She could feel everything the marine felt. See everything the marine saw. It was as if this was indeed her body.

"Is everything alright, sir?" A voice suddenly asked. Athena raised her eyebrows and turned to see the other Terran marine turning to face her new body. It seemed like the marine realized Athena had taken over the body of his comrade.

"I…yes." She replied and was again startled by how deep her voice was.

Without another thought, she returned to her own body. Once again, this process was smooth and effortless. All it took from her was a single thought. The entire time, Adrianna had no idea what just happened.

"Wow," Athena whispered to herself at her new discovery. This wasn't what she expected. She had expected to be able to psychically talk to the Terran units the same way she could do to the Zerg. She had expected the Terran units to only be able to talk to her normally. This odd combination… came as a total surprise to her. A pleasant surprise, but a surprise nonetheless.

Now that she thought about it, there were so many things she could use this for. There were still some things she had to explore, of course, such as if she could stay in a body infinitely, whether there were distance restrictions, or what would happen to her if the body died.

Even so, the possibilities were endless. She could observe a battle in her first-person POV and not have to worry too much about her own safety. She could leave a Terran unit in charge of a city or a planet and go to the planet and rule through the unit whenever she wished. She could lead a military operation without having to put herself at risk. She could even hop into a body and travel to new worlds without the risk of being caught or killed.

Hmmm…this was indeed something she should explore more.

As Athena was checking out her newly gained ability of body-swapping with Terran units, gunfire started to appear from not far away.

It was time for the Terrans to claim their first victims in this new galaxy.

Sergeant Harris of the 14th Decima Royal Legion absolutely didn't want to be here. If it was up to him, he would be at home, watching movies he pirated off the planetary internet with his wife. Who knows? If he was lucky and his love was in the mood, maybe things could even take a steamy turn.

Instead, because of a stupid war, he had to navigate through a forest hundreds of kilometers from his home alongside his platoon, hunting a squad of Imperial survivors fleeing for their lives.

"Why the hell are we even doing this?" One of the corporals beside the sergeant complained loudly.

"Didn't you attend the meetings? The higher-ups don't want random squads of Imperials running around behind our lines. Threatens our supply lines or something." Another corporal replied. "We want to hunt them down before they can group up and pose a threat to our key positions."

"Yeah, but…"

"But why is the infantry sent in? The scanners on the gunships don't work too well in this terrain, and their time is better spent elsewhere. Can't you hear the explosions? The Imperial offensive is still ongoing."

"No, Frank, let me finish! I don't care about this damn mission! I mean…why are we even fighting the Venya Imperium? We've been allied with them for…how long? Sixty years? My dad traveled to the Imperium once, for god's sake!"

"They invaded us. Go ask them."

"I heard they're attacking because our new king is actually the one who assassinated his father." The first corporal retaliated. "Either way, do we really stand a chance? The other 11 planets all fell in six months. How long will this planet last? And it's not like we have help. We'd all be dead by the time this war is over!"

The entire platoon fell silent. Everyone was listening to what the first corporal said, and the fact was that he was right.

If these were soldiers in the Imperial Army, the first corporal might be executed on the spot by the sergeant for cowardice and even treachery. The Decima Royal Legion had similar protocols in place, but protocols meant little when there was no one to carry them out.

As a semi-dominant power in the Chaos Sectors, the Kingdom of Decima was no pushover. The Royal Legions of Decima was well drilled and well-experienced, but often they found themselves fighting pirates, terrorists, and bandits that were far weaker than them. This time, it was the Venya Imperium invading with its overwhelming might, and it was the Imperium that was winning.

At a time like this, even Sergeant Harris was questioning his loyalty. Did they really need to fight for a king of six months? Sure, the Imperials were invading, but it wasn't like they were taking over, right? No matter would happen, it would always be a Decimus on the throne.

"I don't care who wins. It's not like things will be any different for us. Still have to pay our taxes." The first corporal continued. "I just want to go home and enjoy my…"

He never completed that sentence, because the next moment the shooting began.

Unfortunately for them, the Decima soldiers in this platoon were distracted, mainly because they didn't expect a handful of Imperial soldiers to pose a serious threat. The depressing words of the corporal also caught the attention of many men. Using this to their advantage, the Terran troops split into two groups, formed an L shape, and put the Decima platoon into a kill zone. By the time the shooting started, the Decima forces already had their fate sealed.

Within seconds, thirty gauss rifles tore through the fifty Decima troops. 8 mm armor-piercing rounds, accelerated to hypersonic speed, punched through everything in their way. Trees. Bushes. Armor and flesh. C-14s were hardly the strongest weapon in the Terran arsenal, but they were known to take down armored targets from all three races given enough time. As a result, light infantry soldiers with no good cover were easily mowed down.

All around Sergeant Harris, Decima soldiers fell like flies. Some died as they stood there frozen in fear and confusion. Some died as they tried to desperately and futilely return fire. Some died when they tried to turn and run. Regardless of what they did, their fate was the same. The reality was that they were all dead men walking the moment they carelessly allowed themselves to be flanked.

Harris was among the fortunate few in the platoon to survive the first few seconds, but as he took cover behind the body of a man in his platoon, he quickly came to the conclusion that he likely wouldn't be making out of this forest alive.

Right beside him, the corporal who started the conversation collapsed on the ground, his chest torn open by half a dozen spiked rounds. His rifle was fully loaded, but he didn't even have the chance to fire a single shot.

By now, the gunshots had already stopped. Not far away, several figures in blue walked out from behind trees and approached the field of bodies, firing on anything that was still moving.

A few desperate survivors in the platoon returned fire, but their rifles did little against the shields and armor of the blue figures. The rifles of the blue figures were far more effective, something that became clear as the figures coldly finished off the survivors.

Sergeant Harrison saw a young man open his face shield, get on his knees, and beg for mercy. The figures in blue armor had none, and the young man received the same treatment as his comrades.

In that split second, so many thoughts went through the sergeant's head, but they all came down to a single regret.

"Sorry, Debra. I guess you're right after all. Should've retired when I had the chance…"

Another gunshot, and the sergeant's thoughts died with him.