The White Beast
A Homeworld Fanfiction
Originally posted April 26, 2001
Tbe child stood outside the ship’s windows, her arm holding a stuffed animal, staring at the titanic battle outside. Outside was a giant monster, like an immense ship, burning and consuming everything it sees. Her father’s ship, a carrier, had been hit and burning, and the monster prepared to devour it. Beams burned from the monster to the helpless ship, consuming it, devouring it.
“Father!” she cried at the top of her voice. She stumbled hard on her knees, her beloved toy falling to the floor. Tears streamed down her face as she cried his name again. “Father!!!…”
She stood on the surface of another creature that ranged for miles and nearly as big as a large asteroid. A thin protective field held a small atmosphere around the surface like a bubble. Crystal spikes stretch like peaks pointing the heavens above. White, crystalline patches ruled the surface, measuring it with hexagonal patterns. Here another battle raged. Fighters streaked down the sky, beams burning into the surface, as other fighters hunt down them down. Explosions filled the skies everywhere like fireworks. Glowing trails filled the sky like the script of death, written by fighters caught in a flying embrace of combat against each other. Farther away, larger ships exchanged beams of ions and balls of energy. Spectacular balls of white light mark the demise of an unlucky vessel.
It was death, it was chaos, yet there was a serene beauty to it. She felt that she belonged to that chaos, and yet somehow, had risen from it. Like meteors, the ships in struggle around them were living their brightest moments, only to end their momentary existence, as a ball of fire blazing across the sky.
A regal figure stood there on the surface, unaffected by the fire of death around him. He turned to face her.
“Father,” she cried out.
“My child,” he said.
She ran to him, his arms outstretched. He grabbed her as she hugged him long and hard. She smiled as she buried her head in his chest.
“I thought you had died, father.”
“I did, my child, long time ago. I am a crystal facsimile of the man who know once. I am the Zerun-Self, made from the Zerun-flesh prototype. The Zerun essence was saved in to the memory core of the collective matrix, as you, the Zha-Self was taken from the Zha-Daughter-prototype, and saved into the memory core. So was your friend, the Kuo’ran Self, from the Kuo’ran flesh prototype. She too was saved into the memory core, all individual essences, the individuality the Core Self seeks to complete its evolution.”
“So father, it is true then, as I imagined you, as I dreamt of you. You are part of the Beast, the White Beast.”
“You speak of it like a curse, my daughter Zha.”
“And why not? The Beast had killed millions across the Galaxy. It killed you, father.”
“It was the thing that you call Beast that killed me, but it is not the Collective Selves that you call the White Beast. Are we, responsible for the deaths our forefathers and ancestors had caused? The Collective Selves, the one you call the White Beast does not consciously seek to impose death on lesser species. Its evolution—our evolution—had made the death of lesser species irrelevant to the survival of the evolved Collective Selves. Instead, now, the Collective Selves benefit from knowing and understanding the individualities and experiences of the many different beings it finds and interacts with. This knowledge is essential to our evolution.”
“Am I dead?”
“No you are not, my child. See this.”
The Zerun Self showed her an image. There lay the wrecks of two fighters, encrusted in crystal and half buried with their noses on the crystalline surface. She walked toward the wrecks. There were two bodies, and all covered by a web of crystalline hexagonal matrices. There were many crystalline scorpions and spiders, each about the length of her arm, running about the service. They were all drones, hurriedly doing the things they were designed for, but specifically she never understood. They must have pulled the two bodies off from the fallen fighters.
She bent on one of the bodies lying in the ground, and she saw her own face. She bent to touch her own face, and saw instead the skin of the back of her hand. It was crystalline, white, with a hexagonal matrix.
“I ask you again, am I dead?”
“No,” the Zerun Self said. “The Zha flesh entity still lives, and so is her companion, her kindred spirit. They are both being healed. The fighters have processing selves that interfaced with the processing centers of the flesh bodies. The interfaces have caused damage to the personality and memory modules. Our nanobytes will repair the damage. In the meantime, your memory, your personality essence is preserved in the body you have now.”
She raised her hand, staring at her latticed skin and asked him. “Then tell me what is this? What am I?”
“As I have told you, my doubting child, you are the Zha Self, the intergration of the Zha memories and personality essence, into the matrix body, the one Substance, that makes the Core Self, our Flesh….”
“What about my body, my flesh body?…”
“My child, you have the choice to stay in the new body you have, or return to your old imperfect one.”
“The White Beast will let my flesh self live?”
“The Collective Selves accept individualities. It sees the value of life around it. It sees the beauty of the universe, the Greater Whole around which the Collective Selves is only a mere, insignificant part of—the great Cycle of the Cosmos, which the Collective Selves are a mere organism swimming in a greater endless sea.”
“Yet why fight? Why fight for the Nemesis? Father?”
“The vast sea of organisms that live in the inner light of the Great Galactic Wheel of Stars—they sought to destroy us in our imperfect evolution. We have no excuse. Our previous stage of evolution, our previous form had killed millions of the flesh organisms. The Flesh organisms, in their quest and reason for survival, seek to terminate the Collective Selves. We have been starved, we have been weakened, and yet we desire not to spill more blood except in the defense of the Collective Selves. So we fled to the Outer boundaries of the the great Wheel of Stars, to find refuge, peace and solitude. Here we found the Nemesis. We have become too weak to resist and defend effectively. We are forced to join the Nemesis, who had bound us with devices that cause pain on the Mother Vessel, the one that holds the Core Self. We are on the Deliverer Vessel now, and when the resistance from the ones called the Unbound had subsided we must return to the Mother Vessel, and liberate the Core Self from the nodes that cause pain.”
“Me? Sounds like a big problem. How can I alone fix those nodes?”
Just then, the crystalline figure that was Kuo’ran, or her Kuo’ran Self, emerged crawling from the crystal shards. She was curious, exploring the area, playing with the worker scorpions and drone spiders that tiredless maintain the Collective Selves of the Deliverer vessel.
“Which is why, my child, we also liberated your kindred, the one named Kuo’ran. She too was injustly assimilated by the Nemesis. Like in you, we sense engineering knowledge in her. If we save you from your unjust fates, I only ask that you two must save us from our unjust bondage in the hands of the Nemesis.”
Zha looked at Kuo’ran, still in bewilderment of her surroundings. Kuo’ran crawled among the crystal shards, examining everything in amazement. “Zha? Is that you? What am I doing here? The last time I remembered, I was in that fighter…I…I can still remember everything, like a vivid dream which I am a part of, but I cannot control…”
“Your minds were all stolen by the interface link of the fighter vessels the Nemesis gave you,” the Zerun Self explained. By creating a living fighter, it robbed you of your individualities to create a single creature from a union of both your flesh and the fighter itself.
“And who are you?” Kuo’ran asked.
Zha replied. “He is my father, or at least a clone of my father grown from a union of his memories and personality, to the matrix of the White Beast. We are clones too, you know.”
“What do you mean, clones?” Kuo’ran asked.
Zha raised her forearms and pointed to the patterns in her skin. Kuo’ran raised her forearms as well, and stared at her own crystalline skin, marked by hexagonal matrices.
“EEK!!!” Kuo’ran screamed. “What have you all done to me? What did I do to deserve this?”
“Your body and processing centers have been damaged by the fighter interface. It is unconscious and being healed by our nanobytes. The drone scorpions are helping to maintain it during its rest and restoration.” Zerun pointed to the two bodies on the ground, covered like a cocoon by a protective crystalline web the drone arachnids have spun.
“Oh by the god Sajuuk!” Kuo’ran exclaimed as she bent over and discovered her own flesh body. “Is she, am I?…”
“My father is saying that you are currently loaning a clone body made from the White Beast matrix, while you’re true body is being repaired. To answer the next question you are going to ask, yes, you can return to your old body when it’s done.”
“For a moment there, I was really worried,” Kuo’ran sighed. “But but, why is this Beast so altruistic?”
“It needs your help to disable some nodes that bind it,” Zha explained.
“Oh phew, I thought he was asking something really hard,” Kuo’ran exhaled. “Is it?”
“It appears the both of you have doubts,” the Zerun self said. “If this is the case, we have a back up plan. We wish to request that your friend, the Seejuk flesh entity, to help us in disabling the device.”
“Seejuk? Is he…?” Zha asked. “I almost forgot about him….and the rest of the crew…”
“Your friends are now engaged in a battle for their survival…” Zerun looked up to the sky, where a massive battle was fought. For them the battle appeared like a great meteor shower, souls falling from the sky in burning ships.
“Is that, what I think it is?” Kuo’ran asked, still remembering what she was as Wraith One.
“The entities that are the Unbound and the Nemesis are in a death struggle, trying to settle a grievance and an injustice that had lasted many millenia. This is a war that will find no ultimate winner. Only death to the millions of individualities. A sight that tires even the Collective Selves.” Zerun bowed his head. “Your friends are in danger, including the Seejuk flesh entity. We must protect them from the Annihilator vessel of the Unbound.”
“I can remember some details, as that fighter being, Demon Seven,” Zha said. “The planetoid?”
“Yes, we are in the sector of space call the Turan sector,” Zerun said. “As I recall from my previous flesh born incarnation, this is the place of our heritage, the Raider heritage, as the flesh organisms called it. The planetary body dwelt by living organisms and called the Turan planetoid, it is danger of destruction by the Annihilator. We must save it.”
The surface rumbled again. “We are still under attack. The Deliverer vessel still faces danger from the Annihilator and the small vessels that use the ionic beams,” Zerun said.
Streaks rained down from the sky from a formation of fighters. Large arachnids and scorpions, bristling with defensive mass driver and energy cannon arrays, filled the sky with streams of fire, trails of deadly shells intersecting the paths of the enemy fighters and bombers, bringing several down in streams of smoke and fire.
Beams of ion fire from enemy capital ships burned down into the surface from the sky. Chunks of matriced matter blew into space. Zha and Kuo’ran could feel the pain inflicted to the Deliverer as the enemy intensived their ion beam attacks. Surface ports in the Deliverer opened, and the monster vessel replied with ion beams of its own, torching several ships above. Then the Deliverer fired its repulsor cannons, an immense tidal wave that plowed in all directions like a giant expanding ring. Fighters and ships were cleared out of its wake.
A white ball came heading on to them. Zerun warned. “The Annihilator has fired at us. Brace for impact. I must try to repulse the shockwaves.”
The ball exploded with only a near hit, its accuracy distracted by the Deliverer’s electromagnetic counter measures. But the Deliverer now faced the Nova shell’s destructive shockwave, a white ring of fire expanding outwards. Zerun fired a secondary set of repulsors arrays, the repulsor tidal wave colliding with the Nova shell shockwave. Despite the neutralizing effect of the repulsor wave, the shockwave was still rip through the strengthened shields and able to send a destructive storm over the surface of the Deliverer. Whole sets and pieces of the repair and defense arachnids and scorpions blew away with the gale
Zha and Kuo’ran screamed as they crossed their arms against the blast. The strong wind blew against their hair, streaming it backwards. Then the wind knocked them off their balance. Zha screamed as the wind carried her away, but Kuo’ran grabbed her arm in the nick of time. Then Kuo’ran lost her own footing, and blew with the wind, only to be caught by Zerun in the leg. She quickly found the root of a shard to grab on, and likewise, Zha also found another shard to hold on. They struggled to lift themselves as the protective shield reestablished itself and rebuilt the atmosphere. Zha found out that her new crystalline matrice body was not dependent on atmospheres and was resistent to space.
“Go to those large shards and take control,” Zerun ordered the two, in a way that reminded Zha of old memories. Zerun the father, Zerun the ship commander, Zerun the lord of a Raider House.
“Take what control?” Kuo’ran asked. “I don’t see anything that looks like a ship’s panels here.”
“Hurry we don’t have anytime now,” Zerun warned. “Before the Annihilator fires again at us. Just do it. Go to the shards and placed your hand over them,” Zerun said again.
Zha quickly walked over to a large crystal shard that protuded from the ground. Kuo’ran walked to a nearly identical one. Zha watched Kuo’ran’s doubtful eyes, then hovered her hand over the shard. The shard glowed in response to the hand’s movement. The hexagonal outlines in her skin glowed in response.
“Now put your hand on it,” Zerun ordered as he laid his hand just above the shard, ready to lay it on.
Kuo’ran watched Zha’s eyes, and together with Zerun, they laid their hands on the shards simultaneously.
A brilliant light shone out from the shard, as the hexagons in their skin glowed. Their hair streamed upwards with the sheer wind brought from the release of intense energy. Their bodies glowed as energy pulsed through their bodies.
Their consciousness was thrown flying into a deep tunnel. When they awakened seconds later, their individual awareness was part of a larger matrix of collective selves that controlled the Deliverer. Despite its immense size, Zha could seemingly feel every part of the ship, even the seemingly endless supply maintenance and defense arachnid and scorpion droids that have arose from the internals of the ship, to tirelessly repair the damage on the surface and restation the defensive positions around the Deliverer.
The Annihilator was found, its maw aimed at the Deliverer and rebuilding its energy to fire another round. The lights running back and forth along its long stalk indicates a new round being generated.
“Control systems have been damaged by the shockwave,” Zerun warned. “Several of the collective selves controlling the ship have been taken off line or have ceased operation by death or damage. Prepare for direct control.”
“But we don’t know how?” Kuo’ran objected.
“I shall guide you directly through your mind centers,” Zerun replied. Immediately Zha and Kuo’ran felt his presence, telling them instructions in rates of fractions of seconds, how to control the monster ship as he himself guided it.
“Both your powers as a Starfarers, flesh organisms that can percieve the tides and waves of energy in space, will be greatly needed to control and navigate this ship. Prepare yourselves!”
Zha groaned and Kuo’ran moaned as they struggled to turn the giant ship around. Around the surface, defensive droids returned fire against waves of strike craft while repair droids provide an endless supply of regeneration. Dogfights continued to rage between wings of strikecraft, while capital ships on both sides have their own devastating exchanges. Energy had been gathering in the massive internal accelerator coils of the Deliverer, and soon Zha felt that the Nova ball would go soon.
“It is time. Fire,” Zerun said. The lightning from five arms sparked and converged on the Deliverer’s own hungry maw, igniting the mouth. The massive Nova ball ejected from the huge maw, heading to the Annihilator. The Annihilator fired too, its Nova ball headed to the Deliverer.
The Nova ball they fired flew…flew…heading towards the Annihilator. The seconds seem forever. Time had a way of pausing moments before mass destruction. But the inevitable came. It was a very close near hit despite the Annihilator’s own electromagnetic countermeasures. The white shockwave of fire ravaged through the structures of the Annihilator, ripping the skin and the structure in an irresistable gale. Zha watched the incredible sight as the Annihilator was reduced to debris, blowing with the last whisp of the shockwave.
But there was no time to rejoice. The Annihilator’s own ball of death exploded in a near hit, its deadly shockwave expanding like a huge ring in all directions. Even a ship as large as the Deliverer buffeted with the waves. The defensive repulsor waves barely buffered the shocks, and the protector shields buckled under the overwhelming waves. As the atmosphere turned to an irrresitable gale, Kuo’ran’s hair streamed backward, before her entire body was thrown in the same direction. But her flight was broken as she hit a shard. She collapsed, the gale exterting a strong pressure that kept her pinned on the shard’s wall.
Zha was torn off her perch. She screamed as she flew with the gale only to hit a large defense scorpion, which had deeply hooked its legs into the surface, as it held against the winds. She quickly grabbed any extension of the scorpion and hanged on to them for dear life, then pulled herself closer to the droid’s main body. Close by, she saw her father, holding to his control shard. He seemed stronger and more deeply rooted. The wind passed, seemingly barely affecting him and he stood up. That’s where Zha saw he suffered severe damage from debris that hit him.
There was severe damage everywhere, shards broken, surfaces torn apart, fire burning, smoke all around. There was barely left anything on the two fighters they arrived with, but their flesh bodies were intact. Zha sighed with relief. The repair arachnids had buried both bodies deeper and laid more protective web. But as a testimony to the ship’s regenerative powers, the armies of repair arachnids and scorpions were back again, crawling out of the holes and tunnels in the ship. A new battalion of defense droids crawled out to replace what was lost. In normal circumstances, these mechanical monsters would have crawled her out, but she was happy to see them instead. The repair and defense bots were a matter of life and death to her and the ship.
Zha got to her feet as the protective shield rebuilt itself and the atmosphere reblown. So did Kuo’ran. But the Zerun Self’s body flickered with a troubled glow. He could not hold the dignity of pretending that he resisted and withstood the damage. Cracks appeared throughout his crystalline body, his hexagonal pattern strangely faded and disrupted. Silently like a falling shard, he fell.
The Zerun self did not rise. Zha saw and felt something dreadful in her heart. No, not again. She ran despite her crystalline body may have suffered some damage to itself. Despite the power of the White Beast, it can still feel pain. It is still a vulnerable creature.
“Father! Father!” she cried out. She ran to his side, and Kuo’ran joined her, limping. She was relieved that her father was not dead and she placed his head on her lap, her arms hugging his head. He had a strange smile in his face, a sense of contentment. Yet with a sense of urgency he spoke to Zha. “We must return to the Deliverer to the Mother vessel for more extensive repairs. Like I am, the Deliverer is gravely wounded. Our bodily fates are intertwined. If it is damaged, so am I. Call your friend the Seejuk flesh entity. He must help us dislodge the nodes from the Mother vessel. I can sense the battle is not over. The Unbound will return with a greater force. The Annihilator is only one of many. When they understand the structure of the Collective Selves, which they will inevitably do, they will send their most powerful ships to destroy the Mother vessel itself, and thus destroy us entirely.”