Acid Burns is a StarCraft II short story written by Antony Johnston, designed to tie-in with Heart of the Swarm. It focuses on the roach. The story was later collected in StarCraft II: War Stories, and relates to the narrative of Project Blackstone.
When a sleepy Dominion listening post’s tranquility is disturbed by a zerg surprise attack, the base’s forces find themselves fighting against a terrifying enemy, bringing with it a deadly sense of déjà vu for the base’s commanding officer and her husband.
A group of marines fights to survive a zerg attack that unleashes the fearsome roaches.
In 2504, the Terran Dominion outpost of Krakulv Base, located on the moon Krakulv, was under attack by zerg forces. Major Lee Treicher, who was in charge of the base, and Captain Brach Treicher, her husband and fellow officer, oversaw the evacuation, but the nearest destroyer was six hours away and they lacked a sufficient number of medivacs. They encountered a new breed of roaches, these bigger then the older strains that the Dominion had encountered. They took out some of the base defenses, but were unable to attack the raven surveying them.
Three years earlier in 2501, Lee Tricher (at the time named Illyana Jorres) was in charge of security on the research habs of the planet of Garrxax. A zerg behemoth, wounded from a battle with the protoss, landed on the planet, and its impact caused a massive earthquake that lead to the loss of vital signs from one of the scientists named Raynolds. She moved into the habitation zones, but that Raynolds had flatlined.
Back in 2504, Captain Brach took a squad of banshees out against Major Lee's orders, and started bombing the roaches. He then noticed the roaches were burrowing underground as the banshees shelled, them, and his ship was hit by mutalisk fire and began to destabilize. He managed to move back into the base and anti-aircraft fire warded off the mutalisks. However, when he reported into Lee, he stated that the roaches had come out of the ground with their wounds regenerated.
On Garrxax, Sarah Kerrigan psionically urged her swarm to destroy the terran habitation domes in order to gain the biomass within. However, zerglings had run into zantar slugs, which caused them high levels of pain. Kerrigan shifted her attention to a dead human, who had slugs eating away at his suit. Then, the slugs the zergling had accidentally killed regenerated, causing Kerrigan to see a use for them. Lee took one of the modified mohicans to look around, when she found all of the other habitation spheres had fallen.
On 2504 Krakulv, the base was holding with evacuation estimated to be about thirty minutes away. The mutalisk assault stopped, but roaches began burrowing underneath the walls of the base. They fought off the marine defenders, regenerating faster then their bullets could damage them, and began to use their acid to eat away at the base's walls. Lee ordered the anti-aircraft guns to be pointed down at the courtyard, and began using them to kill the roaches. The destroyer Victory finally arrived, ready to evacuate the base. They launched three medivacs to evacuate the colony, but Brachyan said they needed to destroy the base to prevent the zerg from getting their intel.
Back in 2501, Lee arrived at one of the biospheres to find it raised to the ground. She guessed that it was a reaction the zantar slugs had with a local vine in the area, but investigated further. She got zantar slug acid on her, which burned her right arm through her suit until it was functionally useless. She moved forward, seeing one of the zantar slugs being mutated into something more powerful and armored. She shot one of the flammable vines around it, killing the creature, and recognizing that the zerg had come to the planet. Back at the main base, Kortter got the transmission from Lee warning him the zerg were there, but the zerg surrounded the scientists and killed them all. Lee drove the jeep back to the main habitation center, but she was ambushed by zerglings. She managed to fight them off and drive to safety. Just then, a planethopper came in to evacuate piloted by Brach Triecher, a First Lieutenant at the time. She managed to get to it and escape the planet.
In 2504, Lee and Brach were the last two to evacuate the base. They ran to the ramp of the final medivac, Brach saying he'd cover Lee. Brach was hit by roach acid in his leg, and downed. Lee dragged him up the ramp of the medivac. He was pulled in, and the medivac took off. They reached the Victory, and they told the captain to breach orbit. He stated they needed to nuke the colony first, which Lee said they were already doing. Inside the base, Kerrigan urged the roaches on, but Lee and Brach had covered one of the doors with the vine sap that combusted under zantar slug acid. The fire activated some of the subsystems, arming the nukes in core of Krakulv. The moon was destroyed with Lee and Brachyan looking down on it from the Victory. She told the medic that Brach would likely have to lose his leg, then showed the medic her own mechanical arm she had gotten three years earlier. Lee commented that he had a strange feeling of déjà vu about the entire situation.
Upon release of the short story, the roach's home planet was misspelled "Garxxax." This was later changed on the version of the short story on the StarCraft II website and the War Stories version, but remains spelled with two "x"es in the PDF download of the story.