Chapter 36: Crumbling Defenses
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Area B of the facility included a total of around 200 test subjects accumulated throughout the entire duration of the project. Some were more unique than others, but all of them were both extremely dangerous and extremely hostile.

These mutants still retained a certain level of intelligence, and the same intelligence that kept them from attacking the roaches sent them after the guards that had once imprisoned and tortured them.

Within minutes, the entire floor was compromised. Countless labs were overrun. Scientists, guards, and other staff alike were hunted down and brutally slaughtered. There was plenty of security present on the level, but no amount of security could really survive so many threats at the same time. The girl alone gave Athena’s Terran forces plenty of trouble, and there were at least a hundred experiments here just like her.

Soon, some mutants began chewing on the remains of the Decima guards, using the new nutrients to overcome the effect of the tranquilizer darts. Others turned their attention toward the stairs leading to the other floors. Many of these stairs were blocked by blast doors, and so these mutants began chewing as well.

Usually, in the event of a large-scale containment breach like this, Colonel Riker would be deploying troops to incapacitate the experiments and contain the breach. At the very least the guards would keep the experiments from getting to other floors. Unfortunately for him, he quickly realized the experiments weren’t the only problem he had to worry about.

A Terran force of over one hundred units, consisting mostly of marines and marauders, began storming the above-ground part of Prison 09. Despite being few in numbers, they displayed a high level of threat as soon as the shooting began, destroying several patrols and a number of automated defenses with ease.

To his credit, Colonel Rikers assessed the situation and reacted quite quickly. He had a battalion of troops under his command, approximately 1,000 of some of the best soldiers in the entire Kingdom of Decima. The veteran commander, despite not knowing where these enemies came from or what they knew about this facility, quickly realized that the frontal assault wasn’t the true threat here. The base was more than capable of defending against it. The real danger was the loose mutants running free in the base. If left unstopped, these mutants could kill every single human being in the entire facility.

On one hand, the colonel dispatched a company, around a third of his forces, to hold the main gate and repel the frontal assault with the help of tanks, armored vehicles, gunships, and drones. He kept a few platoons as reserves and deployed the rest of his available forces to the entrances leading to the compromised floor armed with all the firepower they had. At this point, killing a few of these prized experiments was a necessary price to pay to save the entire project.

At the same time as attempting to repel the assault, the colonel reported the situation to his superiors, but he did so knowing that help likely wouldn’t be able to come soon. More like than not, he had to handle this issue with the forces he had at hand.


As gunshots and explosions began echoing through the facility, the changelings in the low-level detention center in Area D went on the move as well.

The detention area was divided into several isolated regions. The dozens of changelings were split between these areas. They would be able to do a lot of damage, but first, they had to escape their cells.

In one of the isolated areas, one of the changelings that took the form of a young boy suddenly pretended to collapse in his cell. A few changelings in adjacent cells quickly began screaming at the security camera and pointing at the boy. After a few seconds, the guards watching the camera noticed the chaos. The angle of the cameras in the area meant they couldn’t see what was happening in that particular cell.

The security gate slid open, and a pair of guards in black uniforms entered the detention area.

“What is going on here?” One of the guards, with his hand on the handle of his shock baton, demanded loudly. When the other prisoners pointed to the boy, the guard frowned. He took a few steps closer to the boy and quickly realized he couldn't see what was wrong. At least not from the other end of the cell door.

“Go fetch a medic.” He turned to his comrade.

“Why bother?” The other guard frowned. “He’ll be dead soon anyway.”

“Maybe, but until then he is our concern. You know the paperwork associated with having prisoners dead on our watch.”

The second guard scoffed. In his opinion, given the rate at which these test subjects were exhausted, he really doubted this one boy would make a difference in if the project was successful or not. Still, he turned and walked to the automatic gate and began the authentication process. One by one, the system at the door scanned his access card, his fingerprint, and then his eyes.

“Echo Four Nine Six.” The guard finally said the passcode of the day. He wasn’t concerned that the prisoners would hear it. The code wasn’t the key. It was his voice.

Finally, the door slid open again. The guard left and returned with a medic a minute later.

The two guards readied their shock batons and handguns before one of them opened the cell door leading to the boy’s cell. They didn't think the boy would be much of a threat, but they were good soldiers and good soldiers followed protocols. The medic and one of the guards entered the cell while the second guard stood watch and kept an eye on the other prisoners.

The medic knelt down on the ground and reached out to the boy.

That was when the boy struck.

In a fraction of a second, the supposedly unconscious boy leaped into action. Five sharp claws grew out of its right hand and immediately dug into the neck of the unsuspecting medic, almost beheading the woman in a single strike. At the same time, a bone blade extended out of the boy’s left arm. As the medic collapsed, the boy threw himself at the first guard.

The first guard, despite being surprised, acted quickly as well. As soon as the changeling’s blade cut into his chest, his shock baton hit the boy in the head. But the hit that could make an adult man drool barely seemed to hurt the young boy.

There were a few gunshots as the second guard opened fire. The changeling took the small-caliber rounds with ease before leaping onto the second guard and killing him as well.

As soon as the two guards were dead, the changeling took the form of the first guard and picked up the first guard’s keycard, shock baton, and handgun. He walked to the cell of another changeling and freed him with the keycard.

As the second changeling picked up the card of the second guard and began opening the cell door of the other changelings, the first changeling, now in the form of a guard, walked to the blast door.

“Echo Four Nine Six.” He quickly completed the authentication process, finishing with the same code.

Perhaps the guards watching the cameras were distracted by everything else going on in the base. Perhaps they knew what was happening but couldn’t do anything in time. After all, the entire process went down perfectly and nothing slowed the changeling down. Not even a little. From the death of the medic to the opening of the door, the changeling took maybe ten seconds. In less time than it would take to stand up and stretch, the cells were breached.

One by one, the changelings in the area were freed. Two of them headed for the control center of this floor while the others began freeing the changelings in the other sections.

The Decima teams brought over 70 civilians back to their base to be experimented on. Now they had 70 shapeshifting monsters in their midst to worry about.

At the same time as the changelings were breaking free, Athena was observing the battle going on outside of Prison 09.

The Decima defenders were perhaps the best soldiers she had encountered so far. Forget about the ordinary Imperial Army forces. They seemed even more competent than the Imperial naval commandos. These soldiers were tough, trained, and disciplined. There was a reason they were chosen for this posting.

The Terran forces pushed forward with their superior armor and firepower, but the Decima soldiers stood their ground. Their rifles were weaker than gauss rifles and punisher grenade launchers, but they had the support of heavy weapons.

In the air, several Overlord class gunships joined the fight. On the ground, a number of tanks and armored vehicles that Athena distinctly recognized pushed forward. Marauders reduced many of these vehicles to wreckage, but more quickly took the place of the fallen.

One by one, the marines, marauders, and reapers began to fall. If they could last a bit longer, then the internal turmoil of the base would likely bring the defenders down. It was just that by how things were currently going, the Terrans might not last that long.

Finally, Athena decided to take Kir’s advice and deploy some reinforcements.

“Well, Vodka is not gonna be happy about this.”

Athena said to Kir as she summoned 8 Zerg ravagers into combat. Ravagers were the long-range artilleries of the Zerg, not that they were incapable of short to medium-range combat. Their normal attack consisted of firing plasma projectiles at enemy ground targets. They could also launch corrosive bile into the air in a mortar-like fashion. These biles could traverse quite a distance and come down on enemy ground or air targets.

These ravagers each cost 500 units of resources, but Athena could afford them thanks to the new resources she had been receiving since the fighting began.

One by one, under the command of Kir, the ravagers approached the battlefield. However, unlike the Terran infantry, the ravagers didn't need to be up close and personal with the enemies. Instead, they remained around two kilometers away from the fighting and began launching corrosive biles at Decima positions.

The first volley of eight biles took a bit of time to reach their targets, but when they landed, they tore into their targets. Four bunkers, three fixed-point railgun turrets, and one heavy tank were completely melted. Even the armor of the battle tank didn't last too long before it dissolved like ice when in contact with hot water.

Before the Decima forces realized what happened, a second wave hit. In the game, the corrosive bile ability had a cooldown, but things were a little different in reality. In reality, the ravagers could fire in quick succession as long as they had enough biles stored in their bodies.

The second wave of bile destroyed the remaining fixed-point defenses of the base. Even for infantry soldiers, the corrosive plasma sent flying by each bile hit presented quite a threat. There was also the factor that it was impossible for infantry soldiers to see the strikes coming and effectively dodge them. For these men, their comrades and maybe themselves could be melted alive in the flash of an eye.

The Overlord class gunships came under fire as well. Their shield generators helped keep them safe from marine gauss rifles, but they quickly proved to be almost useless against the corrosive bile, which was partially designed to breach the force fields of Protoss sentries.

It just so happened that ravagers were designed to be siege units, and this was a case where the Decima troops had to hold the position at all costs. Every corrosive bile did severe damage to the company of Decima soldiers.

After another volley, the defenders finally gave in, abandoning the above-ground position and retreating into the facility. This was indeed a smart decision. It would be stupid for them to fight out in the open and lose their numbers to these artillery strikes. By retreating into the prison, they would force the Terrans to enter an unfamiliar battleground and suffer losses to the more prepared defenders.

Unfortunately, the Terran offensive was just a part of Athena's plan, and it would take more than a smart decision to save this facility.