The White Beast – Chapter 16

Chapter 15 | Landing Page | Chapter 17

The White Beast

A Homeworld Fanfiction

by Crobato

Originally posted April 26, 2001

Chapter 16

Zural watched over the three dimensional battlemap on the conference room of his Qwaar Jet class heavy cruiser, the Irkan. The ship used to belong to Taiidan Imperials but Zural had it sequestered when the Imperials could not afford to pay the “bill” for his services and stay. The conference room, used for discussing strategies, was fit for the last Taiidan Emperor himself, or the highest nobles of the once proud Imperial Navy. It had all the top flight communications and modeling equipment, a luxury one doesn’t see on barren and spartan Raider ships.

Next to him were the holographic darkly robed figures that were supposed to represent the Thousand Voices of the Tiamat. The way the tiny voices fill the room randomly, it all gave him the creeps. He deeply feared them as one would fear the unknown, the demons, or the ghosts of the dead. Yet there was something coldly logical about the Tiamat, a clear understanding of what they are, and what they must do.

A voice from the darkness said to him, “Now, we are on sight of the Turan planetoid. It’s conquest would provide us a strategic strait between the Rim areas and the inner galaxy.”

“I still believe that we should attempt to negotiate again to force the Flo’karr safeguarding the planetoid to be on our side,” Zural said.

A different voice replied, “Indeed, you think like one who is bound to the flesh, that all problems can be solved in a whim with cleverly spoken words. We know the hearts of the Flo’karr. They would oppose us as much as they will oppose the Condemned. But there is no room for neutrality in this war. You are either with the Tiamat or against us, against the established order of the Galaxy. The one who will prevail must take all.”

“Once again, the ones who are abominations to the eyes of the Tiamat, the Ones who hear the Stars, have raised their pride above the Unbound. We have nearly exterminated their kind eons ago. Now, they must be exterminated completely. If they are permitted to cross the divine that is Turan with the new Plague, they will destroy the essence that is the Unbound, who since the forgotten time, have controlled the balance of order and chaos in this galaxy. They will enslave you and your race, and those inside the lightspace.”

Another voice said. “Do not think that your heart is hidden from us. You face us with revulsion and fear, but we accept that as the natural reaction of one as puny as you, being bound to the flesh, in the sight of those you revile as gods.”

Yet another voice spoke out from the void. “Now you see our Annihilators have risen from the dead. Those who are not with us will be judged with it.” The image of a giant planet destroyer loomed midair in a holographic image, escorted by Tiamat spiderships, crabships and hordes of Black Acolytes in formation, their long lines of ion trails displaying proudly like a backdrop for the enormous monster of the Annihilator ship.

“You’re planning to destroy the Planetoid with these Annihilators?” Zural asked.

A voice warned. “Their destruction at the hand of the Annihilator will serve as a shining example of our power for not just the Nemesis to witness, but to all the Galaxy.”

“But there are thousands of lives in there!” Zural argued.

“The thousands of bound lives are inconsequential to the greater message that is given,” another voice answered. “Inconsequential to the greater scheme of things, the flow of order and chaos, to the run of fate. Life will inevitably cease, let it serve a purpose by sending a message.”

“But these are thousands of lives!” Zural argued again.

“Inconsequential, as your bound life is to the eyes of the Tiamat as well.”

“No, there has to be some other way. Let my forces try to capture the Planetoid. I am sure it is worth more to you intact as a potential strategic base than it is shattered to fragments. If we fail, then you can use your Annihilator,” Zural offered.

“The Bound does not state conditions for the Tiamat to follow,” warned a voice. “But in your case, as an ally, there is sound logic behind your offer. You will capture the Planetoid by force, but only with your forces. If you fail, your attacking force will be destroyed along with the Planetoid.”

“We will not fail,” Zural declared. “Now I must leave to prepare for the assault.”

“We have provided you with the new technology for your new fighters,” one of the voice said. “Use it.”

Zural looked back. “I will.”

***

The Marauder, the Mule and the Soran have come in sight of the Turan planetoid. Seejuk was surprised that only a handful of ships were around the planetoid to protect it.

“Everyone had taken sides with either the Nemesis or the Tiamat, except the few that will stay faithful to the Flo’karr,” Zhoan said from the comlink of his bridge in the Soran. “Unfortunately as you can see, the Flo’karr does not have so many ships, and neither the Du’ran nor the Soo’nan can send reinforcements in time. Hahaha. All odds are against us. This is going to be fun.”

Seejuk addressed Maalasi in the comlink. “So why has the Soonani remained neutral in this case and sided with the Flo’karr? Why risk yourself and your ship?”

Maalasi answered. “There is no future for the Soonani ship builders and engineers if the Raider nation allied with the Tiamat or the Nemesis. They can easily get their ships and technologies from these people, and eventually get assimilated to their forces. If I am not going to have a future, well, I think I should fight for one, no matter how slim the chances are.”

Giirsa stood up. “I can make a transmission to Hiigara to request some forces.”

“Negative,” Seejuk warned. “Hiigara is too far from here for any help to come here in time. Besides if this war spills over from the Rim, Hiigara needs every ship it has to protect itself. “

Some crackling static came over to the comlink. “This is the Turan defense system to incoming Raider fleet. Identify yourselves!”

“This is Captain Zhoan of the carrier Soran, of the House of Du’ran. We have come to assist in the defense of the Planetoid. The other ship, the Marauder, is from the House of Soo’nan, and the Mule, also known as the Arak-Na, is from the House of Khor. They also have come to assist in the defense of the Planetoid.”

“Your designations have checked out. But how sure are of your loyalties, that you will not backstab us during the battle?” The officer in the defense system asked.

Zhura grabbed the comlink. “This is Zhura, daughter of the elder scribe Salim. I wish to speak to the Sha Mushak.”

“I am in the bridge, managing the defense system,” Mushak replied, having overheard their conversation. “I can hear you, Zhura. We have heard about your—let us say—unauthorized trip to the dark sector. Regardless of your actions, we welcome you back. We need every help we can get. We will be activating the planetoid defenses, so I want all your ships to be in orbit within 10 marks of the planetoid.”

Defenses? When Seejuk was in Black Star intelligence, there were mythical stories about the defenses the Raiders have for their Outposts and planetoid bases. Now, he has the opportunity to watch them in action. In the past, the Raiders would have undoubtedly been squeamish revealing their best secrets to a Kushan. Now, in desperate times, they either had forgotten where he actually came from, or the fact that being a Kushan no longer matters now.

The surface of the planetoid seemed to be alive, as the ports opened. Each port was magnificently camouflaged to match the contour and texture of the surface. What appears like small ships came out of the ports, heading to predetermined positions.

“”Defense pods,”” Zhura explained, standing on the bridge of the Mule with Seejuk. “”All designed by the Soonani courtesy for the Flo”karr. The large ones are quadruple autoguns that have more firepower than an ordinary frigate. Each defense is a capable of generating a cloaking or mimic field, and an array of pods can create a defensive field around the entire planetoid. The smaller pods are high speed autogun turrets designed to take out strike craft. All are linked to and control by the main defense system. If the main core systems were knocked out, the autogun pods would go into automatic mode and will shoot down anything without a friendly signal.””

The Mule, the Marauder and the Soran descended slowly towards a lower orbit.

“We got energy readings!” Maalasi shouted from the bridge of the Marauder. “We got Harkk’hah Bandits coming in at six o’clock.”

“So soon already!” Seejuk shouted from the bridge of the Mule. Standing next to him, Zhura said, “The Harkk’hah fleet must be within striking distance but they must be cloaked. I can’t get anything from the sensors.”

“Damn, we barely got any fighter complement,” Zhoan cursed from the bridge of the Soran. “Order the frigates closer to the carriers to provide protective fire!”

“We need help here! Enemy wings are coming for us,” Maalasi shouted.

“You can hold them off. You got a lot of freakin’ guns in that ship!” Seejuk replied.

“I don’t mean the fucking Bandits, I mean the Outlaw bombers behind them!” Maalasi retorted, his image in the comlink interrupted by flashes of static.

The X formation of enemy Bandits headed down full speed on the Marauder, guns blazing, then turning away at the last moment, a starbust rushing out to the darkness. They served their purpose, drawing out the Marauder’s gun defenses and distracting them from the main attack wing, Outlaws attack bombers. They look similar to Bandits but with more squatter stance to accomodate the larger plasma weapon and a protuding chin that contains the plasma bomb port. The similarity between the Outlaws and the Bandits pose a deadly confusion to any ship gunners. No doubt that the similarity was consciously designed decision.

The wave of plasma bombs impacted against the thick hide of the Marauder. But quad missile racks blasted volleys after volleys of antistrke missiles, detonating against both Outlaw and Bandit alike. The convoy’s Ambusher and Intruder class frigates rained missile volleys against the oncoming attack wings. The Payback, Cutlass and Corsair frigates sprayed defensive fire; all hell breaking lost in the starry blackness.

“I want the remaining pilots to be on Defenders and Multigun corvettes now!” Seejuk ordered. The Raiders never had Defenders and MGCs, and the lack of such foresight was something Seejuk criticized consistently and never trusted. That was why he kept a reserve stock of a mixed Kushan and Taiidan Defenders and Corvettes. The main complement of Bandits, Buccaneer plasma bomb and Brigands missile corvettes have been expended in the earlier battle with heavy losses. The power of the pulse cannon equipped For’lym Bandits were surprising. That and the first head on clashes against the Nemesis fighters. They can’t keep taking losses like these continuously.

“Why isn’t the gun pods online yet?” Zhoan demanded. “We’re getting roasted here.”

“The system hasn’t been used for a long long time. We’re running through the diagnostics now!” Mushak replied.

The other ships the Flo’karr has gathered were mostly of a defensive nature; mostly surplus Kudaark Assault Frigates, some Paybacks and Ambusher class frigates that were newly acquired and represent only the state of the art of the Flo’karr defense fleet. The planetoid had long relied on the other Houses for its main defense; the Flo’karr fleet was mainly for police use only. But without the other houses, the burden of defense fell on the police force.

The defending frigates lashed concentrated fire against the Harkk’hah assault wings, sending a surprising number of the attackers bursting into flame. But they’re not without casualties. Two frigates were heavily gutted and in flames; another gave up its ghost in a ball of fire.

The Defenders were out, along with a motley collection of Kushan and Taiidan light, heavy and multigun corvettes, old surplus veterans from earlier wars eager for a final song of glory. Mass drivers chainfire into the Harkk’hah assault waves; the Harkk’hah head on tactics often cost their formations dearly. Or was the headon tactics deliberately used as a distraction?

The truth was revealted; two new wings of Bandits dived out of nowhere. Beams lanced out from the Bandits, vaporizing two more frigates out of the unlucky Flo’karr police fleet. More beams toasted at least four of the corvettes.

“What the hell—!” Zhoan exclaimed. “They’re roasting my carrier!”

“Mini-ion beam weapons. The Tiamat must have given it to them!” Zhura observed.

“Is there anything they haven’t got yet?” Seejuk commented. “Advanced weapons at the hands of pirates isn’t going to be a good thing. It will screw the power of balance in the galaxy.”

“I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that,” Zhura lashed back. “Tell your complaint to the Kadeshi. They got their mini ion beam weapons don’t they?”

Maalasi contributed to the the discussion. “Look, ion beam weapons on fighter craft are terribly inefficient and can easily drain energy reserves of the fighter low. They’re good in alpha strikes, especially against capital ships but low energy reserves can affect ship performance in a prolonged dogfight with fast fighters. Tell your forces to pursue and sustain fire at the beam weapon equipped Bandits, while maintaining a high rate of speed.”

“Why did you thought about that a while ago when we engaged the For’lym?” Seejuk asked.

“Things take a while to sink in,” Maalasi replied. “I can’t help it if I suddenly thought about it now. I never designed a beam fighter before.”

Seejuk shook his head in bewilderment, and then ordered the Defenders and corvettes to avoid alpha strikes, to sustain engagement while keeping flight speeds high. By the god Sajuuk, Seejuk thought, the Raider was right. The Beam Bandits gradually lose their performance envelope in a sustained dogfight or pursuit if they do not conserve firing; the ion cannons draining energy from the ion-plasma engines. He should take note of this observation, and check that with the Beam Acolytes back home, that is, if he can get out of this situation alive. He ordered some of the reserve pilots to switch to high speed scouts; Zha acquired a few old Arrows for experimentation, and the Mule has produced a number of Fiirkans. He relayed the same orders to the fighters launched from the Soran, and the token police fighter wing from the planetoid. Maintain high speed passes, keep the enemy engaged, avoid their fire.

It didn’t help a ship as big and slow as the Mule however, as the beam equipped Bandits and Outlaw attack bombers continue to rake the ship. The hastily made repairs from the last battle were giving way against the sustained attack. Not far away, the Soran and the Marauder was smoking badly. More and more of the valiantly defending frigates were lost.

Mushak’s face appeared on the screen. “The docks are open! Get all capital ships in! Now! I will activate the defense grid soon! We got a seperate docking portal for the fighters.”

More surprises from the planetoid. A huge docking door opened with leading lights, telling the Mule to come in. The Mule have begun a parking trajectory, followed by the Soran and the Marauder leading up the rear. Orders were given for all defending frigates to park too, and a seperate portal was provided. The fighters, corvettes and scouts provided a blanket of distraction against the enemy attack wings.

“Hurry. We can’t see them yet since they’re cloaked, but the only reason the enemy main fleet has not attacked yet is because they are still out of range. That will change any time soon,” Mushak warned.

“We got friendly forces mostly clear out of range,” the officer said at the planetoid command center.

“Activate defense systems!” Mushak ordered.

“Gunpods are green!” The massive network of gunpods came to life, and so did their barking cannons. Seejuk could finally see why Mushak ordered friendly forces out of the way. The cannons fired through a pattern that would indiscriminately destroy everything that got in their way. Harkk’hah Bandits and Outlaws wings were decimated under the blanket fire, the space above the planetoid filled with fiery debris of former fighters. Those that were not caught by the net of death retreated hastily.

The Harkk’hah main battle fleet had materialized within range, escorted by an advance fleet of Tiamat Black Acolytes and Crabships. Zural was livid that his main strike wings could not do decisive damage. He ordered the main fleet to be brought within gun range and pound the planetoid to submission. His Qwarr Jet heavy cruiser flagship, the Irkan, advanced with three Lord class carriers, and at least two squadrons of Assassin class Ion Array frigates and one squadron of commandeered, former Imperial Sajuuk Cor ion beam frigates.

Ports along the planetoid surface opened, and the Soo’nani Bludgeon class heavy tugs slipped out. Mushak watched tensely, as the Harkk’hah fleet advanced. The tugs took position on all the push points of the asteroid. This was the moment Mushak waited for.

A new signal sent a command all over the massive gunpod network orbiting around the planetoid. Zuhal, aboard his flagship the Irkan, watched in surprise, as the planetoid vanished right in front of his eyes. “Where the hell did it go?”

“A massive cloaking field, sir,” said one of the officers.

“YES I KNOW it’s a cloaking field, get an attack wing immediately and probe the area,” Zuhal shouted, livid in rage. “All ships continue to advance to the previous seen position of the planetoid.”

The comlink screen hissed and crackled. The next image was one that would send the fear of hell into any soul; peering red eyes glowing in the darkness.

A voice said, “So as we see, you have indeed failed. Despite the technology shared to you, and having the most powerful fleet among the Ones who Drifted, you cannot defeat a force of scholars and their insignificant police force.”

“The Raider bases are legendary in the galaxy for the art of concealment,” Zuhal retorted back. “I just never had that experience of dealing with them from the opposite side of the fence.”

Back in the planetoid, people were departing from the smoking, heavily damaged capital ships. Emergency crews rushed to repair the ships. Along with the Flo’karr, there was a sizable contingent of Soo’nani engineers and technicians, who not only maintain the planetoid, but repair the ships that come by to the planetoid after a long journey.

Seejuk thought about what he saw. So Black Star intelligence was correct that the Raiders had developed a massive defense and cloaking network that they used to hide their most important bases. Or at least as Maalasi again explained it, Raider groups that were willing to pay for the additional defenses—which were all expensive options in addition to the basic base cost. Most Raider bases actually don’t have these defenses, simply because they refused to pay for the price. Seejuk wondered if Maalasi was trying to suggest something here.

Black Star Intelligence speculated that the Raiders use powerful tugs to move these bases and outposts to different orbits. Seejuk saw that theory proven with the Soo’nani Bludgeon class heavy tugs. He saw a small fleet of these tugs slip out to points in the planetoid.

The planetoid rumbled and shook. Some people feel from the loss of balance, and beams strained from the internal quakes. Dust and debris fell from the structures.

Zhura explained. “The tugs are in their assigned positions. They are now pushing the base into a new secret orbit. We are concealed right now by the cloaking field, but if probes reach to our orbiting position, we can still be detected. By moving to a new orbit, we hope to slip by scout patrols and probe scans. We are safe in the meantime.”

“But for how long?” Seejuk asked. “Are we going to have reinforcements?”

“Our Sha is asking for all ship captains and commanders to meet him in the control center,” Zhura said. “We must plan new strategies to deal with our crisis. We must do this while our ships are getting repaired and rearmed.”

Seejuk shook his head and followed, with Maalasi, Giirsa, and Zhoan.

On the control center, they bypassed the pleasantries and went directly to the point.

“I wasn’t informed by the situation with the Nemesis until now,” said Mushak. “While I praise our intelligence services for a job well done, I do not appreciate being kept in the dark by my own intelligence arm. I know the proud tradition of extreme secrecy the Flo’karr spy arm has, but not to inform their own leader? This is like a secret government behind my back. But given our crisis, I cannot presently deal with this matter until our own collective survival can be assured.”

“We have another concern now. Our scans spotted this behind the Harkk’hah fleet.” Mushak showed the screens.

“Black Acolytes, Tiamat Crabships and Spiderships. But what in the name of the gods is this?” Mushak pointed to an enormous ship. It was a spheroid. One pole has a giant maw, the other pole a long stalk. Around the equator were eight arms that supported a ring.

“A planet destroyer from the Unbound!” Zhura said. “This was revealed to us during our short captivity with the Nemesis.”

“So we can assume that we may be the target of this thing, this planet destroyer?” Mushak asked.

“There is no other living planetoid here, what do you expect?” Zhoan shrugged his arms.

“How effective do you think this new weapon is?” Mushak said.

“It is not a new weapon,” Zhura explained. “It had been used to destroy hundreds of worlds in the past.:

“And I would assume that the Nemesis told you this, Zhura,” Mushak replied. “I wonder what else has the Nemesis told you. I have so many questions, but I must deal with this crisis first.”

“Any reinforcements?” Seejuk asked.

Mushak paced as he talked. “We have made requests just before the Harkk’hah enabled a massive communications blackout that prevents long range signals from leaving the sector. We do not know if they are replied. We are gambling that we may get help, but I fear that hope is remote. If we do get help, we doubt they can stand up against the combined forces of the Hakk’hah and the Tiamat. And if we get through them, we still have the For’lym and the Nemesis to deal with. Our far ranging Seeker frigates, acting as an early warning net, have detected activity in the Mohilim sector that can only indicate that For’lym and Nemesis forces have started movement to this direction.”

***

Aboard the Atonement—

X’on had called forth his army of Hosts. They had gathered in the hanger as X’on stood on the ledge with his clerical court. The female form of Wraith One and Demon Seven stood among the army of many to watch the Overlord speak.

A hologram of the galaxy appeared right above the throngs, turning like a luminous whirlpool with millions of stars and planets swirling in its gravitational embrace.

“Soon, we will return to the place of our ancestors,” X’on declared. “Soon this is ours again. Now is the moment we have waited for many millennia, to vindicate the billions that died. The Unbound have gathered. The Annihilators have been found…”

X’on had declared his intention of victory, raised his arm to the applause of the throngs, and thousands of arms joined him in an endless salute of triumph, shouting his name, shouting the cries of victory.

The girl that was Demon Seven walked away, troubled by things she did not understand. She stood alone as she faced the transparent wall that showed the milky luminous arm of the galaxy beyond. She could not understand why she felt that she belonged somewhere there. The girl that was Wraith One walked and stood next to her, and Demon Seven could feel the same doubt inside her. Beyond there, in the lighted arms of the Galaxy, there existed more life, more songs to hear. They should be happy that they will see more, but inside, they felt something else, like something was stolen. Both of them stood here, staring the stars like their minds were caught in an everlasting dream.

Far below, the Deliverer rumbled, as its enormous engines came to life, its escorting fleet of cloned fighters, corvettes and capital ships forming a giant armada, keeping aft and below the main Nemesis battle fleet as they all headed for the Turan sector.

Chapter 15 | Landing Page | Chapter 17

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