The White Beast – Chapter 17

Chapter 16 | Landing Page | Chapter 18

The White Beast

A Homeworld Fanfiction

by Crobato

Originally posted April 26, 2001

Chapter 17

The star was dim, old, a lonely red dwarf in a region of space where there was only a few stars. Around it orbit clouds of gas held together by electronic magnetic forces. Once in a while, a flare would erupt from the surface of the red dwarf, its flames igniting the auras within the clouds. In the lonely eons this was the only song the star gave, an oasis in the darkness, a sole guardian of light. The dense clouds that contained dark matter had stayed adrift for eons, existing without a purpose, matter that never formed into a gas giant, never ignited into a nebula where stars were born. It was a place that never saw life.

A new visitor came and disturbed its ages old solitude.

The new creature sought to feed its hunger among the rich clouds. After it satiated itself, it gave birth to a child it called the Deliverer, and the Deliverer went away with the multitude of tiny living creatures in the giant vessels.

The Mother that is the Core Self remained in orbit around the red star. Just waiting, waiting….

While it waited, it gave birth to several children. They floated in orbit around the red star, extending giant petals to collect all heat and radiation for the Core Self to feed. Lately a new creature was born. One by one, these new creatures came into orbit. These giant ships all had immense petals of panel arrays that extend into miles of space, each capable of focusing a concentrated beam of massive gravitational waves into a single point, each a super gravwell generator, but exponentially many times stronger than ones the small living creatures use. The Mother that is the Core Self silently gave birth to these new creatures, one by one, without the knowledge of its Oppressor. Each petal ship lay silent in their orbits around the red dwarf, concealing its true purpose, till the moment the Core Self will awaken it and its siblings.

***

Mushak watched the form of the Annihilator as it cruised slowly into position. The nebulas behind it raged in their ancient fires. Embers glowed in the Annihilator’s mouth, a hungry flame within unfed for eons.

“If we are just engaging capital ships, our autogun network would have taken care of them alone. But if we have to face something that can take out an entire planetoid…,” Mushak sighed.

“That is if they can find us,” Maalasi said, expressing full confidence on the massive cloaking system.

“I won’t be too sure about being confident they won’t find us,” Zhura replied, pointing to the ships on the far side of the screen. The escorting Black Acolytes have spread out and began a search pattern. “The Unbound has abilities that go beyond their physical bodies. They will find us sooner or later.”

“Then we need a counterstrike, something to take out that monster,” Mushak said. He turned to the two Kushans. “It is unusual for outsiders to be involved in our business, more unusual still that they may die needlessly from it. This is our battle, not yours, but you have chosen to be. Our pride says we do not need you, but it is our gratitude that speaks louder.”

“This is what Zha Khor would only wish for, and do if she’s still around,” Seejuk sighed. “What happens here will eventually affect us all. But right now we just need to pool our efforts in getting us out alive.”

“We do not have enough strike craft against a thing like that,” Zhoan remarked. “Much less try to fight through the defenses.”

“We need enough time,” Maalasi reported. “Our crews are repairing all the capital ships. Assembly lines in both carriers and within the planetoid are trying to assemble as many fighters and corvettes from existing component stocks.”

“And how many strike craft do you think, Maalaasi, we need to build to fight through the Harkk’hah and Tiamat defense wings, and destroy that thing?” Zhoan asked.

Maalasi shook his head.

“Another way is to get every living soul in the planetoid into the carriers and capital ship and make a run for it,” Seejuk proposed.

“To leave the planetoid is to leave everything the Flo’karr worked for since the dawn of our history,” Mushak said. “If it falls to that, anyone who chooses to leave may leave but I…I…will rather stay.”

“I suppose we cannot get all the things out in time,” Seejuk sighed.

Zhura nodded. “No, we can’t.” She joined Mushak’s side. “I will rather stay too.”

“It looks the only thing we can do now is get every ship we can find, and do a suicide run against that monster,” Zhoan laughed. “It sounds like fun, hahaha. What a way to go; I never dreamed I would go out in such a glorious fashion.”

“No, there are other ways,” Zhura explained. “We can try to stay long enough for the entire planetoid to slip out of orbit. The ancients have ways to blind out the Nemesis and they can be used to blind out the Unbound as well.”

“You’re not referring to the ancient chants, are you, Zhura?” Mushak asked.

“The ancient chants are for a purpose, my Sha Mushak. It will bring our minds to an elevated state of enlightenment, so we can use our thoughts as a shield to block the probing minds of the Unbound.”

“That’s a good idea,” remarked a skeptical Zhoan. “It is just so right for the occassion. We got nothing left but a prayer to stop the enemy. How quaint. Honestly I am a soldier, not a cleric. I expect to go out like a soldier, with my guns blazing and the blood of my enemies being spilled as the last sight of my eyes, instead of being on my knees waiting to be slaughtered like livestock!”

“I didn’t ask you to join, Zhoan,” Zhura remarked with a bit of irritation. “Our ancestors use the chants during the War of the Heavens, as they revolted against the Nemesis. The soldiers of the Nemesis could find our ancestors through their thoughts. The Starfarers who joined the liberation created the chants as a discipline to block out the mind scans. To hide its true intention, the chants were concealed as a prayer to the gods, and it was appropriate since the chants do require the higher state of mind a prayer would produce.”

“I know the story,” Mushak added. “Although I am skeptical, this is our only chance and hope for survival. We shall pray that what our ancestors said was indeed true, and that our most ancient of histories, are true. You have my permission to find as many volunteers as you can.”

“I believe I will find enough scribes and clerics to join me in the ancient chants,” Zhura bowed to Mushak. “I shall include all family members who are non combatants. They can contribute too.”

She turned to Giirsa. “During the time in the slave ship, you comforted me. Even though you are a Kushan and do not partake in our rituals that may seem foreign to you, I do request that you join me in my side.”

Giirsa replied, “Even though I am not of Raider blood, I am a scholar like you. One who believes in the power of knowledge. It will be an honor to be on your side and pray with you.”

Zhoan smirked and shooed them away. “Go on you two kids and sing your prayers. Let the real men handle the real battles, hahaha!”

Seejuk didn’t join Zhoan’s sarcasm and gave Giirsa a wink. “Go on boy, do what you have to do, and don’t forget to pray that it really works.” He then turned to Zhoan. “I’m going back to my ship to check the repairs and oversee the fighter production.”

“Sounds like something I should be doing in my ship too,” Zhoan declared. He turned to Mushak. “Sha Mushak, we asked that we be excused at the moment.”

“Go, and prepare your ships,” Mushak warned. “Our most critical battles may still lie ahead.”

Outside, wings of Black Acolytes along with wings of Harkk’hah Bandits and Outlaws patrol the rock belts, searching for any signs of the planetoid. Slower frigates and corvettes joined them, scanning space like a tight net. A tiny satellite would not have escaped their detection.

Zhura led the robed procession into the main deck. Giirsa, in the robes of the Flo’karr scribes, appeared like he belonged to one of them. Joining them were the mothers, children and elders, all whom dependents of the planetoid work and defense forces. Instead of digital tablets, Zhura handed them sheets of ancient fiber carbonate. An ancient script was marked on the sheets, and Zhura applied phoneme characters on top of the script so they can be read.

They all sat on the floor, and Zhura began to hum the first lines. The huming turned to a song and everyone followed like a choir, their voices filled the hollow chambers. It was the hymn of Blindness, a prayer extorting the gods to blind the Oppressors so they will not see the slaves run away. Giirsa could neither read the script or the strange phonetic symbols the Raiders use to teach their language, but he could imitate, and faithfully he did. The song had a bland hypnotic effect. For a moment there, he forgot he was a Kushan, forgot who he was, but wished and became part of them. He stared at the beautiful figure that was Zhura, leading the choir, bravely chanting that the prayers would defy fate. For a moment he felt secure that her indomitable spirit, the same spirit shared by those around her, a spirit that he wanted for himself, would lead them to safety and ultimately, victory.

***

Seejuk returned to the lab aboard the Mule. In the quarantine chamber the Fly-Self hummed and hovered in the air, fragile crystalline wings sprouting from its shrimp like body. It always amazed him to think that this fairly like creature can be a front for a hive creature as powerful as the White Beast.

“I sense trouble in the sentience of the Seejuk-Flesh-Entity,” said the Fly-Self. “I sense you worry about the Zha-Flesh-Entity, daughter of the Zerun-Flesh-Prototype that created the Zerun-Self. She is still alive but she is still in danger. But not as imminent as the danger you are in. You should concern yourself more about your survival at the moment. The Annihilator from the Unbound is near, and it is but one of many.”

“I know that there are many more of them, O Fly-Self. We are truly in deep deep trouble.” Seejuk’s inner defenses began to crumble. “I miss Zha right now. I really need her inner strength and her gung ho optimism right now. I really need someone who can go out there and kick ass, and I don’t mean Zhoan. I need more people like them. I am starting to get used to the idea that we may get blown to crap very soon.”

He then kneeled in front of the quarantine chamber. “Zhoan is planning to do senseless heroics and Zhura has nothing left but her prayers. Honestly, Fly-Self? Honestly? After how your buddies in the collective Self helped us escape from the Nemesis and the For’lym, I think you are our last hope. The hope of this planetoid, this ship, my life and that of all the people here.”

“A few years ago I can’t imagine how the Beast can be our salvation. We saw it as the greatest threat to the Galaxy, one that threatens all that is living. Now, if the White Beast—your Collective Selves—possess the evolved power of the Beast magnified several times more, you and your Collective Selves have the power to stop this madness between the Unbound and the Nemesis.”

“Seejuk Flesh Entity. The Collective Selves in the Core Crystal has long fore seen what will happen. A plan is being undertaken.” The transparent body of the Fly-Self glowed and glowed as it spoked, each light matching the tone of its words. It’s lair in the quarantine was filled with white crystal matrice, which Seejuk earlier found out, acts like a three dimensional microcircuit. The whole matrice acts like a small living supercomputer. As it needs more memory and processing power, the crystal perpetuates itself, millions of nanobots etching new crystalline microcircuits all over the surface of the host the matrice attaches itself to.

“But I must warn you, the Seejuk-Flesh-Entity. The time will come the Collective Selves will evolve once more. We will still reach a final step in our evolution. We will be supreme. We will be free.” The wings of the Fly-Self extended many times over in a brilliant flash, almost to the point the quarantine chamber could no longer contain it.

“Fly-Self, what you mean, Final Evolution? Aren’t you evolved? Aren’t you an adult form?”

“It is something you are not ready to comprehend, Seejuk-Flesh-Entity. It is only something that can be experienced.” It’s luminous wings fluttered. “It is the Time we, all of the Selves, look forward for. Despite the war and chaos around us, it is our moment of greatest beauty. The form of the Collective Selves in the name you called the Beast was not a child but a larva; the form of the Collective Selves you call the White Beast is not an adult but a pupa. There is still our final ultimate form that awaits us.”

“I want to see it, Fly-Self.”

‘Indeed you shall, Seejuk Flesh Entity. The time will come. Our glory shall be revealed. You shall share in the Revelation. But for now, we must live past the danger. “

There was silence.

“The danger is near,” the Fly-Self said.

“The machine, the vessel of death called the Annihilator.”

“It seeks us.”

***

Zural paced nervously up and down the conference room. The presence of the creepy robed holographic forms of the Tiamat made him tense.

“You have failed,” one of the voices boomed.

“Don’t keep reminding me of that. I certainly don’t appreciate it,” Zural barked out.

“The lives at the Planetoid are now ours to forfeit. The message of their destruction by the Annihilator will serve as a warning to all those the defy the Wheel of Fate,” the voice boomed. “With their cloaking fields on, we will detect them through their mind waves.”

But a voice warned. “Our patrols cannot find the planetoid. We cannot read their minds; only the dull note of a song is heard, dumbing droning. No tone, no music…dull, droning…a lifeless note… It was a note we heard once before, long time before, when the ancestors of the Ones who Drifted, defied the armies of the Condemned to find their freedom…to blind the senses that are Unbound to the flesh…”

“‘The Hymn that Blinds,” Zural laughed. “It can only be the Hymn. What do you know, the old legend is true.”

“The thing you call a Hymn that Blinds. It is a mind block,” a voice clarified. “Indeed it is clever that the Bound ones would know how to use this technique of emptying the minds and filling it with a single dominating thought, blocking the thoughts that can only betray them. Our opponents are indeed resourceful and wise. But the measure is only temporary. It only delays the inevitable. It is a pity that we must destroy them.”

“But with their mind block and cloaking shields, they are virtually undetectable,” a voice remarked. “Your boasts and promises will be empty.”

Another voice countered. “There is still a way to betray themselves. Order the Annihilator to charge the Nova cannon now. Then prepare to fire across the rock belt at the following coordinates.”

The embers in the maw of the Annihilator awakened, its red fire brightening to orange and lights twirled across its rim in an eager anticipating dance. Eight arms symbolized the forces of fate, the eight arms across the equator edging foward, the ring they held turning into an immense reflector and focusing array. A line of lights rippled in the stalk that extended from the back of the sphere. The stalk was the primary barrel stage where the initial ball of energy was formed. The ball was shot into the sphere where it was accelerated further, where it picked up more energy, until all the magnetic arrays could hold the ball no longer.

“Fire,” a voice in the darkness whispered.

The maw opened, its orange glow turning yellow, then a sheer white brilliance, a massive ball of energy rampaging through space. The spinning ball headed to the luckless belt of huge rocks called asteroids. The ball smashed through lesser asteroids, turning them to bits and dust that rocketed in all directions. The ball fatefully headed to a large asteroid, and the brilliant explosion that followed sent a massive white shockwave that ran out like a ring of raging fire in all directions.

The shockwave buffeted the planetoid. The ground of the planetoid quaked gravely from the impact. Mushak fell across his console and hit the floor, blood flowing from his head, his eyes unconscious. Beams collapsed all over the hallways and floors. Fighters being assembled in a hurry fell out of their lines. Zhura’s choir panicked as objects fell on them, injuring some. The lights flashed, then turned dark for a moment until the emergency power reserve kicked in. Sparks jumped from the loose electrical cables. Water bursted out from broken conduits.

Seejuk watched as things fell out of their tables and smashed at the floor. He held his grip tightly on the wall, trying to prevent himself from falling. The lights dimmed aboard his ship, then came back on. He turned on the comlink, trying to reach the planetoid command center.

“What happened?” Seejuk demanded.

“An explosion, sir. Something destroyed a nearby asteroid. The shockwaves and debris flew all over and it damaged the planetoid.”

“Damaged?” Seejuk was uneasy about it.

“The Sha had been injured. He is being sent now to the medical facilities,” said the officer.

“What is the status of our cloaked generators?” Seejuk asked.

“We lost power to them sir,” came the reply. “The shockwave temporarily brought all power down to the cloaking generators. We are rushing to repair them.”

“Damn you know what that means?” Seejuk asked, assured he was dealing with a moron.

Just then, Zhoan came on line. “Did you get that Seejuk? That was near hit, a practice shot from the Tiamat’s Annihilator ship. Can’t imagine what a direct hit would do.”

“I don’t think it was a practice shot, Zhoan. It’s a saturation shot designed to lure us out and take out our cloaking shields. Our cloak is down.”

“What?” Zhoan’s face was that of utter surprise, then horror. “We will be detected immediately!”

“Past tense, Zhoan. We have been already detected. Take a look.”

Already the hungry empty maw of the Annihilator had turned towards their direction.

Chapter 16 | Landing Page | Chapter 18

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