The White Beast – Chapter 14

Chapter 13 | Landing Page | Chapter 15

The White Beast

A Homeworld Fanfiction

by Crobato

Originally posted April 26, 2001

Chapter 14

Even though she was his rival, Giirsa had known Kuo’ran for a long time in the Academy, an intelligent and spunky student who wasn’t afraid to voice her opinion. Then to watch her body slump mindlessly across the seat of that fighter, eyes wallowing, her mouth foaming and drooling, her very consciouness and intelligence broken or stolen by that thing, whatever they had on those ships— that was too much even for the diplomatic Giirsa. He lost his cool.

He ended paying for that outburst of temper with another terrifying discovery. He was thrown onboard what seems to be a slave ship. With the help of the For’lym, the Nemesis had been gathering slave labor to build a massive underclass to run their cities, mines, farms, and factories deep in the Abyss. And it had been that way for millenia. This time, the For’lym had been actling like the true despicable pirates of old—raiding ships, bases, and planets to provide that cheap slave labor no technology has learned to replace. It was part of the convenient agreements the Nemesis had with the For’lym, and which perhaps it looked to extend with alliances to the other Raider houses. He had noted that among the slaves, there were Raiders too. Apparently the For’lym would stoop low enough to raid their fellow other Houses for a cheap supply of live bodies.

He was, for his entire life, an aristocrat. Living with a silver spoon, always had the best clothes, and respect always showed his way like a red carpet. Now he had been stripped to only his shorts, then chained. The shackles bit tightly into the flesh of his ankles and wrists. The diet is poor and he was weak for the lack of water. The smell among his fellow inmates were unbearable. Is this the life of being a slave?

Chained, he had the time to rethink his decisions. He vastly underestimated the scale and the consequences of his actions. Kuo’ran lost her sanity, Zha may lose her life,. and he lost his status. He got off lightly, compared to what they lost, but for how long. What about the fate of the other two, the scribes? And the ships they left hanging in the sector? It was a mistake to come here, to fall right into a deceptive enemy. He should have gone back after the celebrations back in the Turan planetoid. Then everyone would still be alive and happy. But time could not turn back. He thought he had much strength, but now, at times when no one would be watching, he would slink to a dark corner and weep.

He heard the heavy boots of the guards walking the corrigdor, the sound of bare feet being dragged along with chains and shackles. The old creaky metal door opened, and he heard a soft body thrown hard against the floor. He crept to see who the new unfortunate soul was.

She had been stripped to her underwear, and the marks in her body implied she had been beaten or tortured. She had chains in her wrists and ankles. Her face was familiar, even in the darkness. It was Zhura.

He grabbed and dragged her to his corner. She was barely conscious, and he made small slaps on the cheek of her face to revive her.

“Who…is that?” she weakly cried out, her hands clawing at his chest.

“It’s me, Giirsa.”

“Ah, the rich Kushan,” she replied. “I almost didn’t recognize you, with you looking not so rich now.” She smiled weakly.

“Where is your father now? Where is Kuo’ran? Where is Zha?” Giirsa asked.

“My father is still being held back in the large ship. They only needed one scribe they said, and keep the other as a hostage—me. Kuoran? I don’t know. Zha? I don’t know. I only heard rumors she might be executed as part of the entertainment.” She leaned and rested her head on his lap. He thought he too needed some reassuring physical contact, laid his arms around her as she rested.

“Do you think we’ll ever get out of this? I don’t know…” she asked.

“We should never lose hope,” he said, as he stroked her hair. Her dark hair seemed remarkably smooth despite of all the things done to her, and so was her silky skin and the sleek curves of her body. He was tempted to touch and caress her, but his grace and discipline kept his hands where they are supposed to be.

“Your thinking what I am thinking?”

“That it was a mistake coming here?” she asked.

“Yes, big mistake,” he nodded his head.

“So the legends are indeed true,” she said. “The Nemesis are slavers. Any idea where they are taking us?”

“I heard people talk about ships as big as entire moons, with farms and factories,” he said. “Sounds like a life of hard labor ahead.”

“You look like you never had a day of hard work,” she said, examining his hands, his long thin fingers with their soft skin, manicured nails, and no hard calluses.

“You too,” he answered back as he touched her hands. Her skin was soft, fingers as long as his, with sharp fingernails. .

“I’ve been a scribe all my life. A person of letters and reports. Boring, huh, especially to the other Raiders who live on action,” Zhura explained.

“I thought you Raiders are all big, husky and intimidating people, much like Mr. Zhoan,” he commented. “I never expected that some of you might look a little cute and gentle, like you and Zha.”

“Ah, I see, they feed you with stereotypes in your Hiigaran school,” she said. She look around at the other inmates.

“There are Taiidans here, taken from their homes and ships. There are some who are Raiders too. All of them kidnapped and raided by the For’lym. ” Giirsa said. “The For’lym are acting like slave gatherers to the Nemesis.”

“Mahar is the betrayer of all what the Raiders stood for, no better than Zuhal, if he and the Harkk’hah has joined the Tiamat,” she said. She curled tightly in his lap.

Even in the dim light, he could see her deep sad eyes, the lines of her pouting lips. He had been lonely for days, and he was tempted, but it would not be right. He stroked her forehead, and he could feel her sweat and a slight fever.

“My father…I don’t know what they’re going to do to him,” she wept on his lap.

“Somehow, we’ll find a way to get out of here,” Giisa said, looking all over the large room full of inmates whose hopes and spirits were all broken and tied to the heavy chains.

Zhura watched the same things around her. “Looks like we’re not going anywhere soon. So Mr. Giirsa tell me your story…”

“You first.”

“What there to tell in the life of a boring scribe whose life will end early as a slave abused to death?” she said. “A life of a priveleged tribal heir of Hiigaran culture should be more interesting. Just talk about anything, everything.”

Giirsa could feel she was weak and ill. So he told her about himself, Hiigara and Kharak. He strayed and began to tell her about the arcane fables and myths of old Kharak., and he continued to talk even as she fell asleep, till all the tired words from a tired mind ceased into slumber.

***

There was a rumble, and Giirsa opened his eyes. Zhura woked up too, ears and eyes, alert.

“What is that?” she asked.

“Shhh…” he whispered. The rumbling was louder, and they were the sounds of explosions echoing around the aging frames of the ship’s hull.

“Sounds like we’re under attack,” Zhura said. “But by who?”

More rumblings and the ship shook. Red lights flashed and the sounds of sirens joined with the sounds of explosions. Giirsa and Zhura held each other tightly, fearful of what was happening and what may come next. The other inmates began to wrestle hard against their chains, hoping that they can be pulled out and they will be free.

There were echoes of shouts and gunfire along the halls, accompanied by the shrill notes of hot lasers burning through air and metal. There were agonizing cries as guns ripped their flesh bound targets. Giirsa and Zhura braced for the worst.

The door blew open, as blocks of flesh flew out from the explosion. Giirsa and Zhura could see the silhouettes of the heavily armed intruders. The sighting red lasers from their eye monocles cut through the darkness as they entered the prison room.

“All clear,” shouted the squad leader.

That voice, Giirsa thought, he knows that voice. His eyes could see better know, and the intruding squad wore the Raider commando powered armor that he had seen Zhoan and his Du’ran ship boarders wearing.

“Zhoan!” Giirsa shouted.

“What the hell?” Zhoan recognized the voice. “I can’t believe it. Giirsa Kaalel is that you?” He turned on the flashlights embedded on his suit.

Giirsa and Zhura shrinked back at the bright lights shining upon them. “By the stars, it is you! And that Flo’karr scribe! I like to ask what the hell are you doing here, but we don’t have time!” Zhoan turned to the other men. “Get all the prisoners out, hurry, and back to the Cutlasses!”.

Giirsa and Zhura ran with Zhoan, as the Du’ran commandos cut down the defensives with large arm held autocannons. The autocannons, their multiple barrels rotating, whirred as streams of shells cut their targets into a bloody jelly. When the bullets was done, the commandos take a spare ammo belt, inserted the head of the belt into a port in the autocannon and cocked the guns with a sharp metallic ring.

“What are you doing here?” Giirsa asked Zhoan. “I’ll explain soon, but we got to hurry!”

There were transparencies along the corridors, windows to the outside. Giirsa could see through them. He saw the Cutlass class boarding frigates, their underbellies extended, sticking to the sides of the huge slave ship like limpets. There was a hole in one of the halls, the vaccum sealed away with a temporary foam. Through it was the hatch of a Cutlass frigate.

“Get in there now!” Zhoan shouted. As prisoners swarmed through the tunnel to the safety of the Cutlass, robotic defenders giving chase appeared in the corrigdor, rushing to intercept their prey. Zhoan’s targeting laser lighted from his eye monocle as he raised his autocannon. The gun whirred and large calibre shells tore through the robotic defenders.

The hatch closed, and with everyone inside, Zhoan gave the signal. There were deap croaking sounds as the Cutlass disengaged from the hull of the massive slave ship. The other Cutlasses also began to disengage from the hull.

“Is everyone clear?” Zhoan asked through the comlink. There were affirmative signals from all the other Cutlasses. “Then blow the thing up!”

Explosions racked the ship from bow to stern as the bombs left by the commandos detonated. Fire and smoke streamed from the ghastly ship, but it held. “Damn, that thing is really built!” Zhoan shouted in frustration.

“We got company,” said the commander of the Cutlass. The prison ship has sent a distress call, and it was answered with a wave of fighters and oncoming frigates. The fighters were identified to be For’lym Bandits and Scimitar interceptors. A second wing was identified as Outlaw plasma bombers. Behind them was wings of Bats, Mantas and Skates. The sensors officer identified a squadron of the Nemesis Nuriya class pulse ion frigates ixed with For’lym Assasasin class ion array frigates and Intruder class missile frigates

The turrets in the Cutlasses turned to fire against the incoming wings. “We’re not match to them!” shouted one of the prisoners. “Hang on, we got reinforcements!” Zhoan assured.

“We got the carrier the Soran in our sensors now!” said the tactical officer. “Fighters are in attack formation. We got two other ships on screen!”

“Show them now!” Zhoan ordered.

The Mule and the Marauder loomed out of the dark clouds. Behind them were formations of Bandits, Brigands, Buccaneer plasma bomb corvettes, and Outlaw plasma bombers. The frigate squadron also came into view, with the new ships acquired from the Soo’nan and now being built under license in the Mule— the Payback plasma bomb frigate, the improved Ambusher class missile frigate, and the Corsair cruise missile frigate. A little older were were Intruder class missile frigates, but the design was too new to see service in the Beast campaign.

“Seejuk come in please!” Zhoan shouted through the comlink. “We got the prisoners. Unfortunately we can only find Giirsa and Zhura. Zha, Kuo’ran and Salim remain unaccounted.”

There was a disappointment in Seejuk’s voice. “You have done what you can do. We will engage the enemy.”

The For’lym Bandits were first in the scene. But instead of the red mass driver fire, the Bandits emitted a green rapid firing ion pulses. A Cutlass shook from the raking hits, its turrets answering to the Bandits as they made their pass.

“What the hell is that!” Zhoan demanded.

“The For’lym may have acquired some new ion weapon technology from the Nemesis,” Seejuk explained. “We got no time for explanation. We better be ready for more surprises.”

The pulse ion cannons proved to be a deadlier weapon than simple mass drivers. A Mule Bandit careened out of control, smoking, by a Du’ran Bandit mortally wounded. One of the Mule’s pilots shouted, “We don’t have enough firepower to match them!”

“Oh yeah you do now!” shouted Maalasi in the comlink, the multiple energy cannons in the Marauder going off, smothering some For’lym Outlaw bombers as they tried an attack run on the prototype heavy cruiser. Energy cannons blew a For’lym Bandit in pursuit of a Du’ran Bandit. The Du’ran bandit rolled in a signal of appreciation.

An unlucky Cutlass was the subject of the attention of a wing of For’lym Outlaw bombers. Defensive turrets destroyed at least two of the bombers, but the Cutlass could not take the relentless plasma bomb attack. It burst in brilliant ball of light; lives of rescued prisoners and commandos all lost.

“Dammit!” Zhoan shouted as the remaining . “We need cover!”

The Marauder moved forward bravely to head off the bombers, with Maalasi singing a battle hymn in the bridge. The bombers popped from the withering fire of the cruiser. The Cutlasses have moved within the safety range under the combined flak umbrella of the Lord class carriers the Soran and the Mule. Maalasi was gleeful with the vindication the new frigates were demonstrating. The Soo’nani had predicted that the lack of an anti-strike craft frigate in Raider fleets would be a serious handicap, and designed the Payback plasma bomb frigate along the Kudaark Assault frigate model. In addition to the plasma bombs, the Payback was equipped with energy cannons and mass drivers for anti-strike craft roles. The second frigate was the Ambusher class. Similar to the Intruder class, the Ambusher differed with the use of smaller lighter more agile missiles designed to take out strike craft, compared to the larger, less maneuverable anti-cap ship missiles the Intruder class frigates used. The smaller missile racks allowed for defensive energy cannon equipment. Now was the time of vindication. The Payback and the Ambusher frigates moved forward covering the Cutlass frigates as they began docking to the Mule and the Soran. For’lym fighters and bombers popped against the covering fire of the new frigates. But there was some losses too, as one of the Payback frigates exploded.

Casualties were heavy in the Mule’s and Soran’s strike craft however. The Bats and Skates were supremely agile, their pulse ion cannons superior to anything the Mule and the Soran had. Maybe if they had still kept those Beam Swarmers Seejuk remember having captured during the Crusade campaign they could stand a chance. But no—they left all the captured Kadeshi frigates and Swarmers to guard the mining base left in the Khor sector along with some Taiidani and Kushan equipment.

The Nemesis Nuriya frigates have appeared aft of the Soran’s port bow. Pulse ion cannons began to rake to the whole length of the Soran. Zhoan had disembarked off the Cutlass, and was running in rage cursing as he headed for the bridge of his ship heavily under fire. “Status report!” he ordered.

“We got a pincer movement! For’lym Assassin class and Intruder class frigates have closed in on the Mule!” the tactical officer reported.

“The Mule better be ready…” Zhoan said. “All guns, give those slavers some ion cannon justice!” The Soran turned towards the Nuriya frigate wall, a swarm of Vigilante repair corvettes frantically repairing the carrier. The twin ion beam cannons energized, then lanced out and connected to the frigate wall. Two Nuriya frigates fell out of formation, burning. The Soran’s Assassin frigates deployed their panels, and headed to the Nemesis fleet, red beams connecting against the enemy frigate wall. A Du’ran Assassin frigate disintegrated from the retaliating pulse ion fire, but not before it got its revenge as a Nuriya exploded into a thousand dark pieces.

The missile ports of the For’lym Intruder missile frigates opened, and volley after volley of missiles headed in a deadly trail against the flank of the Mule. The massive carrier shuddered from the multiple impacts. “We need Defense NOW!” Seejuk shouted.

The Brigands, Thieves and the Buccanneers from the Mule headed to an intercept course against the For’lym Intruders. Nemesis Bats and Skates fell upon them, but the Mule’s Bandits, plus a few Triikors and some Scimitars of its own intercepted them for a diversionary move. “Keep the dogfight close to the Marauder,” Seejuk ordered. The covering fire from the heavy cruiser can even things up a bit against the incredibly agile and superbly armed Nemesis fighters.

The missile ports in the Brigands opened, and volleys swept out and headed to the enemy frigates. Thief corvettes latched on the Intruder frigates in the rear formation, while Buccaneers peppered the frigates in the leading formation.

A Corsair frigate got its sights on a Nemesis Nuriya frigate. “Fire1” the tactical officer ordered, a volley of four cruise missiles headed to the enemy frigate. The four missiles slammed on the side of the frigate and a fireball engulfed the Nuriya as it atomized.

“We can’t hold on. We’re getting swarmed to death,” Zhoan shouted, the Soran heavily in flames. Much of the fighter compliment in both the Mule and the Soran had been annihilated. The Marauder held off as much as it can, but the damage has also begun to show. He watched the Mule, the former Arak-Na, also burning from the continuous attacks.

“We got new ship signatures hyperspacing. Oh dear, now we’re done for. The ships got Beast signatures!” the tactical officer said.

The Beast carriers were modeled after the Lord class, followed by Beast Qwaar jet cruisers and Skaar Tel destroyers. Close behind were Beast Ion Array Frigates. They set themselves up behind the Nuriya frigate formation. Sweeping wings of Beast Triikor and white Acolyte interceptors loomed by, trails of white ions streaking the darkness. The ships were covered with white crystalline patches, crystals of silicon and germanium forged into a processing matrix.

Then suddenly the Beast ships fired. But instead of firing at the beseiged Raider fleet, the ion and infection beams hit the rear of the Nuriya formations. Frigate after frigate of the Nemesis erupted, their cries of pain and surprised betrayal drowned out by a jamming telephatic signal generated from a new Beast ship.

White Acolytes swept through the Nemesis fighters, mini ion beams cutting through the Bats, Mantas and Skates. The Beast Triikors joined the massacre; a Skate hopelessly tried to run away, while a Triikor unloaded its energy cannons into its smooth belly.

“What the?” Zhoan exclaimed in surprise.

“This is the White Beast, our newest ally,” Seejuk said.

“I know, but why is it trying to help us? Do you know anything about this before hand?” Zhoan said. “Flo’karr secret intelligence had identified this creature as a For’lym tool and Nemesis ally.”

“Now it’s not,” Seejuk answered. “Let us just say for the moment, it had a change in heart. But it needs to continue its pretense of alliance to the Nemesis. Every Nemesis and For’lym ship in this battle must be destroyed. No survivors, no leaks.” Seejuk watched as each and every last Nuriya frigate was obliterated by the Beast beams.

Two Beast Qwaar Jets appeared behind the For’lym frigates, all communications jammed by a massive flower like Beast ship with panels that extended out like giant petals. In front of the For’lym formation, the Soonani heavy cruiser with a pack of Payback and Intruder class frigates rushed for a head on engagement. The Marauder fired its four massive ion beam cannons at the For’lym fleet, backed by a dozen energy cannons eager for some revenge. The rapid fire quad plasma bomb launchers and missile racks were equally busy, raining death on the For’lym ships. The Payback frigates lived up to their namesake, as plasma bombs joined the conflagration of the For’lym fleet. Missiles from the Ambushers and Intruder frigates were not to be denied of blood.

Trapped by the Mule-Soonani fleet in front and the Beast fleet behind, the For’lym ships surrendered. “Aw shucks,” Maalasi said on the bridge. “This spoiled it…” Thief corvettes and Cutlass frigates rushed out to collect their prizes. Out in space, the last Nemesis fighter was hunted out by the White Acolytes. A speechless and eerie peace came upon the fleet.

“Now some answers, please?” Giirsa asked, aboard the Soran’s bridge. “What is going on?”

“To be honest with you, I have been working with the Flo’karr Intelligence forces,” Zhoan explained. “Intelligence was aware that the For”lym was in secret negotiation with the Nemesis. Yes, we are aware of the presence of the Nemesis, but secrecy was set in the highest order. We cannot reveal the Nemesis. So I just pretended I know squat. The deception is so good that only Intelligence knows. Not even Mushak, Sha of the Flo’karr knows the truth. Salim and Zhura here are brilliant scribes that arrived to the discovery of the revived Nemesis seperately from us. Unfortunately we needed to discredit them somewhat to keep everything under the lid.”

“I am very sorry about this, Zhura.”

Zhura nodded her head. “For all this time, the For’lym, the secret Flo’karr Intelligence, the Du’ran commandos, knew all about the coming of the Nemesis.” She stood up, walked to Zhoan, and slapped him hard across the face. “That is for lying to me and my father.”

Then she leaned forward and kissed him in the cheek. “That’s for saving me.”

“Well that proves I’m still good with the ladies,” Zhoan laughed.

“But how did you know our location?” Giirsa asked.

“After you and your party left in the Mule for this sector, we only pretended we have a business elsewhere, where in reality, we shadowed the Mule to this sector,” Zhoan explained. “Later we revealed ourselves to Seejuk.”

“The For’lym has been raiding ships and colonies for slavery, and we have been on their trail. They would even raid fellow Raider ships and bases secretly. We thought why would they do such a thing? Who are their customers? We found out they have been supplying slaves to the Nemesis. We were also tracking Nemesis prison ships, and planned commando attacks to release their captives. By luck it turns out that you and Zhura were there. Now what is your explanation? Giirsa. What happened to Zha, Kuo’ran and Salim?”

Giirsa replied. “I don’t have good news. Kuo’ran has been brainwashed by the Nemesis. The last time I saw her, she became a vegetable. Zha is still a prisoner. I don’t know what’s going to happen to her.”

Zhura added. “They turned me into a hostage and then a slave. Said they only needed one scribe. My father is still with them. By making me a hostage, they taught they can bend his will to write a new history favorable to them and their world view. Could we still rescue him? Zha and Kuo’ran?”

“We can’t stay here. As much as I want too, I cannot imperil the fleet for three people,” Zhoan explained. “We got a major crisis here. We have a Raider civil war in our hands in the backdrop of an even bigger battle as the Nemesis settle their differences with the Unbound. We got reports that a Harkk’hah fleet and their allies, supported by Tiamat and other Unbound forces like the Sekmet and Naga, are headed for the Turan sector. They are planning a take over attempt of the strategically located planetoid base. The Du’ran, the Hu’ran smuggler fleet, and the Soo’nan have joined the neutral faction fleet along with the Flo’karr for a last ditch defense of the Turan planetoid. We have made a plea for Taiidan Republican forces to assist. We need to be there to defend the base!”

“So soon? We just nearly got annihilated back there,” Giirsa pointed out. “I can see the fleet are in shambles, the Soran and the Mule are heavily damaged, fighter and corvette fleets are almost all gone…”

“Never said that it was easy,” Zhoan replied. “Fighting against all odds is the true spirit of a Raider.”

“Anyway, we got captured ships and fighters from the For’lym to make up part of that,” Seejuk said. “We can hastily train some of the prisoners to repair the ships and fly the fighters… I wish Zha was here. She would love the fighting.”

“What about the White Beast?” Zhoan asked. “If it helped us, maybe it can help defend the planetoid. We would certainly need its power. It’s the only thing now that can stand between the Nemesis and the Tiamat. Hey where did it go?”

“The White Beast fleet left, while we were talking with each other. It’s business is finished here and fortunately its treason to the Nemesis appears to be undetected yet.” Seejuk explained. “It will be back. Let us just say I have my way of communicating with it even though I don’t have Unbound or Starfarer telephatic capability. Let us also say it will interfere and help in its own unexpected ways, like what it did just now. But in the meantime, we are back on our own.”

“I would certainly like to know how you got the White Beast in our side, Seejuk,” Zhoan said. “But I don’t think I can beat that out of you right now.”

“I don’t really think it’s with anyone’s side except to do what it thinks is right,” Seejuk explained.

Zhoan turned to Giirsa and Zhura. “When you’re ready, a ship will bring you back to the Mule. We need to embark back to the Turan planetoid as soon as possible.”

“Aye aye,” Maalasi said in the comlink. “The Marauder is ready. We will show them what this baby got. But if Miss Zha is not available, who will take care of her contractual obligations and bills to the Soonani?”

“I think, we need to take care of those affairs later, if there is still a Raider nation left after this civil war,” Seejuk said. “Or if you and I are still alive after this. Somehow, I got it from a good source that Zha will be okay.” He sighed. “I certainly hope so.”

His last words cannot be heard as Seejuk took off the comlink. “Bye, Zha, at least for now…”

Chapter 13 | Landing Page | Chapter 15

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