The White Beast – Chapter 23

Chapter 22 | Landing Page | Chapter 24

The White Beast

A Homeworld Fanfiction

by Crobato

Originally posted April 26, 2001

Chapter 23

“The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and the sky were darkened from the smoke in the Abyss. And out of the smoke, locusts came down upon the earth, and were given power like that of the scorpions of the earth. “

Revelations 9, 1-3

The nebula was a battle between the red and orange fires, fueled by hydrogen clouds, and the smothering blackness of the dark matter that floated from the Abyss. Inside it was the dim star of Mohilim, an aging red star that had lived a life of eons in loneliness, no star, no planet to give it companionship, no life form ever arising from it. At the farthest edge of the galactic spiral, the Mohilim star awaited its end, waiting to return its life giving elements back to the cosmos, the only worthwhile event of its obscure existence.

Between the shadows casted by the dark clouds, and the dim flames of the dying nebula, hundreds of black shapes emerged. There were massive spherical shapes with rings and arms, and tails ending in long stalks. Hundreds of small black fighters shadowed them, and larger spiderships and battlespheres followed them.

“We have arrived,” said one voice. “…Arrived to the system of the dying star. It will be a place fitting to end the Plague and the Condemned.”

“We have no time to lose,” said the voice, this one of the Sekmet. “The psionic power of the Plague increases by the second.. I can feel its power rising, like a nova ready to burst. It is a strength that the Condemned had cast a blind eye upon, not realizing that their tool will be ultimately stronger than they are.”

“If that is so, then the Plague must be our primary objective,” said a voice of the Tiamat. “We can eliminate the Condemned after the Plague is destroyed. The Plague must not be allowed to grow stronger than the collective powers of the Unbound.”

“We have sight of the Ones that must be destroyed,” a voice spoke.

The lines of fighters that stretch from one end of the sky to the other began to accelerate, their bluish ion trails lengthened as they increased to attack speed. The Tiamat crabships and Sekmets battle spheres forged ahead, their Boundless overminds controlling the Black and Fire Acolyte drones.

Obscured from the dark clouds, another armada of black ships emerged. There were huge ships shaped like tripods set on their end, three legs that stretch out into space from a central body, and a huge stalk emerging from the center. Thin yellow lights rippled back and forth the entire length of their body.

“We have contact with the enemy,” the tactical office announced. They had been waiting among the dark clouds, hundreds of sleek winged fighters, the Bats, the Skates and the Mantas, hungry to wreak retribution for the fate the Unbound had cast upon them. Like huge roaches, the Nuriya class frigates followed the fighters. Then finally, the Retribution class dreadnaughts brought up the rear.

The winged fighters ignited their boosters, and their red ion trails streaked the black sky. The LED lights from the dashboards reflected off the dark visors of the Starfarer pilots, as their fighters accelerated and scanned for the nearest Unbound targets. “This is Demon Leader. Enemy fighter squadrons, bearing 0124 mark 086, prepare to engage.”

All across the star system, the peace from the obscurity and the darkness was broken, as two ancient powers prepared to settle their eternal feud.

Yet another creature waited patiently, like a carnivorous animal hidden in its burrow, ready to jump on its prey. It watched the combatants as they head to each other in a fatal embrace. This is the time, it thought. The circumstances are right. The decision is made.

Death creates life.

Around the aging Mohilim star, like giant flowers the solar wind collectors extended their panels and aimed it at the core of the star. The massive gravewell generators set in orbir by the Creature headed for the collectors and united in their centers, creating a new ship. The collectors fed their energy in the gravwell generators, whose gravity fields were focused by the panels directly into the core of the star.

Massive waves of gravity began to compress the core of the red Mohilim sun. Waves of stellar tsunami rocked its surface. Angered, the dying star released massive flares into the sky.

“The enemy is here,” said Zerun, staring at the human crew as they struggled in a race of time, to unlock the nodes that bind the White Beast.

“What is here?” Seejuk cried out, sweat beading in his forehead, as he tried to hack the Raider installed nodes with Giirsa, Kuo’ran, Zha, and Zhura.

It was Maalasi in the comlink. “He must be referring to the Unbound armada. Looks like it had arrived to the system. The ship scanners are detecting the Nemesis also in battle formation, heading to each other. Looks like a big fight ahead in the sky.”

“The battle is joined,” the Zerun self said. He raised his arms. Outside, formations of white fighters, Acolytes, Triikors, Bandits, Blades, a collection of a myriad designs the White Beast had accumulated from the races of the Inner Spiral, began to accelerate, ion trails heating up. Behind them were various frigates, also collected from the races of the Inner Spiral, the Lightspace. The main bulk of the smaller capital ships were Hive frigates. They opened their back wings, and hundreds of swarm drones filled the space like a storm cloud.

Their orders were simple. They were neither to offensive attack both the Unbound or the Nemesis, but to defend the Mother core vessel; its offspring, the Deliverer, and the orbiting collectors-gravwells, whose fields were being focused into the Mohilim star itself. The Beast ships and fighters were legacies of the Beast selves in their former form, existed long before the White Beast had evolved its own organic designs. They were the first wave of defense, and the White Beast was about to launch its second wave.

Seejuk was distracted from his hacking activities as he saw the walls of the cavern came to life. Hundreds of anthropoid creatures—spiders and scorpions, emerged from the cracks and tunnels of the walls, heading to the surface.

“Do not be alarmed,” said the Fly self as it perched on Seejuk’s shoulder. “The time of tribulation has come. The Selves are willing to sacrifice themselves to preserve the common good.”

From the back of the larger spiders and scorpions—defense Selves—wings sprouted and extended themselves in shimmering arrays of rainbows. They were wings of pure energy, held by force fields. As the Fly had explained before, the wings bend the very fabric of space and time itself, as they flapped through it like a fluid medium. The spiders and scorpions flapped their wings, then hovered, and rose straight to the sky, accelerating ever faster as they broke out through the crevices and canyons, a massive raging swarm heading out to battle the dark shapes in the sky. Then came the third wave, giant crystalline flies and locusts creeping through the cracks. They too extended their shimmering wings of energy and field, and rose in buzzing, raging swarms.

Salim had been the dutiful scholar. His weapons were never guns or lasers, but the tip of his pen. He had seen the Nemesis take his daughter away, a captive and a pawn they used to keep him at his dubious work of rewriting and rehashing Nemesis history in the archaic language of the Raiders. The project was a whim and a pet of the Nemesis Overlord, a somewhat bizarre man with strange thinking patterns.

There was a knock in the door, and he opened it. Instead of expecting armed Nemesis guards, the armed men were in Raider uniforms, packing pistols of Raider design.

“What?” Salim asked.

“Do not question me. Just come with us right now. This is urgent,” said the Raider.

Salim dared not to question and quickly followed the armed men. To his surprise they led him to Mahar, Sha of the For’lym, Raider allies to the Nemesis. It was Mahar and the For’lym who lent valuable know how that enabled the Nemesis to capture and bind the White Beast. They led slave gathering raids in the Inner Spiral sectors to supply cheap slave labor for the factories pounding armaments for the Nemesis war machine. They led scouting and information gathering missions in the inner spiral sectors for the Nemesis. They were traitors and conspirators.

From the expression in Mahar’s face, Salim knew that his sentiment had changed.

“That madman, X’on, he will lead us to certain destruction,” Mahar complained. “This war, this feud, this is not a war of conquest. This is a war of mutual annihilation. We have sent secret communiques with Zuhal of the Harkk’hah for a tactical withdrawal of the situation. By no means our feud with the Harkk’hah has concluded. This is our means to ensure that both of us will live for another day to deal with each other.”

“A tactical withdrawal, eh?” Salim smirked. “You are about to turn your back on your ally.”

“A smart thing to do given the circumstances,” Mahar explained. “The last few battles have left severe attrition on the For’lym fighter forces. If this continues, we are gone. Not to mention the fact that the Nemesis and the Unbound are fighting in a system with an unstable star. Our scanners have detected that the Mohilim sun is capable of going supernova anytime. To die in a useless futile manner is not what I have led my life for, what I have built the For’lym for.”

“You are contemplating escape against your former ally,” Salim confirmed.

“YES, and you will go with us. We cannot afford to leave any Raider in the hands of the Nemesis. That would betray too much information,” Mahar insisted.

“But my daughter….I can’t leave her, she’s a prisoner and they may do something to her if I escape with you…” Salim argued.

“We have good word that she is no longer on the hands of the Nemesis,” Mahar said. “They never told you, but she was on the slave ship that the Du’ran Raiders liberated.”

“Really?” For the first time in a long time, Salim felt joy. The news of his daughter’s escape was thrilling to hear, even from the mouth of a conspirator like Mahar. “You’re sure?”

“I know that you never trust me, Salim of the Flo’karr, but for once, heed my word. We must get out. Either you leave with us alive or we will leave you dead on this spot,” Mahar said. “We must leave while the Nemesis is distracted with the battle.”

Between escape and death, it was an easy choice for Salim. Mahar led his party in a small shuttle out of the Atonement, in pretext that he was returning back to his command ship. Back in his Lord class carrier however, Mahar ordered that all fighters must stay in standby.

Across the system, Zuhal of the Harkk’hah had the same thoughts. Scanners from his science and EWAC vessels had detected the instability of the Mohilim sun. His fleet had suffered severe attrition from the last few battles. Like the For’lym, the addition of small ion based cannons on the Bandits did not turn out well. The ion cannons depleted way too much energy and required too long a recharge time for the Bandit’s limited battery reserves. This gave a severe liability to the beam based Bandits in dogfights and it was most apparent in the battle of the Turan sector, when they both had to battle each other and the regular Bandit and interceptor Raider forces defending the Turan planetoid. If that wasn’t enough, the indiscriminate use of the Nova cannon by both the Unbound and the Nemesis destroyed both friend and foe, the shockwaves unleashed killing anything within range of the explosion.

Zuhal had wondered about the consequences of escaping from the Tiamat. Now with the Mohilim sun a supernova candidate, he has his back on the wall. Death seemed certain and he would rather face the consequences with the Tiamat instead of the supernova. Now with the Tiamat pre-occupied in a death struggle with the Nemesis, he saw an opportunity.

“All Harkk’hah forces. Stand down and do not engage without my signal,” Zuhal ordered. He stared at the screens where the dark space of the Mohilim system had turned into a nonstop display of fireworks, as ship after ship, in a chaos that one could not tell one side from the other, exploded in an orgy of death and battle. He watched the chaos, and he was thankful of his decision.

Across the system, to the Mother vessel of the White Beast itself, Maalasi faithfully manned the scanners of the Corsair frigate they used to land inside the Mother planetoid.

“Seejuk? Anyone?” Maalasi beeped the comlinks. “We got a situation here. The Mohilim sun just turned unstable. We got to hack the nodes and get the hell out of here as soon as we can. Or we can just get the hell out and forget about this creature.”

As if he is not in enough pressure already, Seejuk thought. Good, that will make his day. The Unbound in complete topsy turvy in one end, a ancient crazy whacko race on the other. They’re in the surface of a Beast mothership, hacking Turanic Raider nodes on a star system about to go nova on the very end of the Galaxy. Boy, his mother never dreamed that as a job situation for her baby.

“How did the star become unstable?” Seejuk asked.

“I’m afraid, we are responsible for it,” the Zerun self said. “We cannot let the Annihilators escape the system. The Unbound and the Nemesis will be taught a lesson. The Cycle of Violence and Death must end here. Our gravwells have focused their fields into the core of the star. Tidal waves will compress it until ultimately it will reach supernova.”

“You will kill everyone in the system!” Seejuk objected.

“There is still a chance to escape,” Zerun said. “Help us unlock the nodes. If you fail, we will die along with the supernova. If you succeed, we can escape.”

“How?” Seejuk asked.

“You will see,” Zerun said.

Seejuk stared at Zha. “You know something like this might happen, do you?’

Zha looked back. “I had a feeling but I could not confirm it. They were hiding it from me for fear I may tell you.”

“Do not fear. Death begets life,” Zerun said. “If we are to die, it will not be in vain. Whatever happens here will preserves the lives of millions more. The ancient cycle of violence must be stopped. We—the Selves have been part of that violence. This is our atonement for the millions of lives we have so unnecessarily taken. This will be our rebirth.”

“Rebirth?” Seejuk asked.

“The final evolution of the Selves is about to come,” Zerun said, staring the sky.

“I got it, I got it!” Zhura shouted with her hands on the air.

“I got confirmation here,” Maalasi said, his eyes on the scanners. “We got a node down finally.”

“Pass the codes to us,” Giirsa said, and Zhura did it immediately. Soon, Giirsa and Kuo’ran both each had nodes down, and Seejuk soon after.

Back on the atonement, X’on was livid. At the screens, the unyielding struggle between his forces and the Unbound happened in front of his eyes.

“Our instruments have confirmed that the star will go supernova,” the Sensors officer said.

X’on could feel the star changing with his Starfarer senses. The gravity fields from the gravwell generators of the White Beast orbiting the star continue to collapse it further. The collectors and gravwells use the very same energy they collect from the star to power the collapsing fields.

Why is the White Beast doing this? X’on thought. Was it because it had a bizarre need for self destruction and to take everyone down with it? That question will never be answered. All attempts to communicate with the Core Self have turned only empty silence. The only alternative is to punish the White Beast for betraying the Nemesis and its alliance.

“Electrify the nodes now!” X’on ordered. A signal flashed from the Atonement dreadnaught to the nodes inside the White Beast mother ship.

Seejuk saw the Zerun self suddenly stumbled. He turned and watched Zha as her back was arched, her eyes glassy in terror, her mouth silent but gaping to scream. She stretched her hand out to him, then collapsed.

“Kuo’ran, Kuo’ran,” Giirsa screamed as he stared at Kuo’ran’s limp and fallen figure. “What happened?”

“The nodes have activated,” Maalasi confirmed from his scanner readings. “They sent a massive EMP pulse across the network that jarred, maybe even killed some of the Selves within the collective matrix. We’re lucky we shut off some of the nodes or the casualties among the Selves would be much higher. But we need to shut the rest off, or they will continue to strike until no one is left.”

Zerun was the first to get up, but both Kuo’ran and Zha stayed unconscious. Seejuk told Zhura and Giirsa to keep breaking the nodes, as he propped both the bodies of Kuo’ran and Zha against the wall. He almost forgot that these were not their real bodies at all, but the temporary shells lent by the White Beast to hold their consciousness. That was why the EMP node attack had badly affected them but not the flesh bound humans.

“Their consciousness must be restored to their original bodies, or they will not survive the next node electrocution attack,” the Zerun self warned. “Put their new bodies next to their original bodies. Their flesh bound bodies have not completely recovered from the neurological effects of the Nemesis mind link system, but we must take the risk.”

Like mummies, both Kuo’ran’s and Zha’s real flesh bodies had been covered with a crystalline web by the maintenance arachnids. Seejuk laid their new unconscious crystalline bodies next to their old ones.

“What next?” Seejuk asked.

“The transfer must begin,” the Zerun self said. The Fly self hovered over their bodies, and a strange glow emanated from the crystalline bodies.

In her real flesh body, Zha’s eyelids flickered. A moan came from Kuo’ran’s real body. Seejuk watched with anxiety. “Was that the transfer? Just like that,” he asked. “Are they okay?”

“They will still feel ill, but we have repaired enough of the neural systems for them to function normally in time,” the Zerun self said.

“I got two more nodes down,” Zhura said. “I got three,” Giirsa declared.

Aboard the atonement, the tactical officer reported to X’on. “Someone is tampering with our nodes. We are losing every sectoral node to a hacking attack.”

“Hacking attack? How is that possible?” X’on was livid in rage. “Scan the Mother planetoid for any ship that landed inside!”

“Scanning sir…confirmed, we got a possible Raider frigate inside the planetoid,” said the sensors officer. “It is too deep to be surgically removed with ion beam or missile fire, sir!”

“Too deep? Too deep? Use the Nova cannons and just blow the mother vessel with it!” X’on ordered.

“But sir,” the tactical officer objected. “We are under attack by The Tiamat crabships. We need the cannon to repulse the attacks.”

X’on grit his teeth in impatience. The officer was right; he can’t have all. But he wanted to destroy all. He must destroy all.

Outside, the battle has become more desperate. The swarms of strike craft proved to be inefficient to end the battle decisively and quickly. The battle evolved—or degraded—into an exchange of nova cannons from the dreadnaughts. Indeed the Unbound preferred it that way. Faced with relentless swarms from the White Beast, the Unbound took the shotgun approach. The Annihilators lined up their Nova cannons, and blasted huge holes against the Beast vessel and anthropoid swarms desperately defending the mother ship. The shockwaves from the nova shell explosions indiscriminately destroyed any craft smaller than a destroyer regardless of the side they belonged to. The blasts cleared huge chunks out of the defensive swarms, and the Zerun self felt the immediate loss of thousands of heroic Selves reverberating through the collective matrix.

“Woe, woe…” cried the Fly self, realizing the sacrifice of thousands of its companions.

The cavern shook and crystal shards broke off. Maintenance anthropoids fell off the walls as the mother vessel as a whole shuddered from shockwave after shockwave. But Giirsa and Zhura maintained their concentration on their terminals despite the quakes, minds focused on the war of bits and bytes inside the machines instead of the galactic war around them. Seejuk dragged both the human bodies of Zha and Kuo’ran to a safer place to avoid falling debris.

“Massive vessels coming to our direction,” Maalasi warned through the comlinks, eyes transfixed on the Corsair’s scanners. “They must be the planet annihilators. Whatever we’re doing here, we better get it finished soon.”

Nova ball shells headed from the Retribution class dreadnaughts headed to the Unbound fleet. Wave after wave wreaked havoc, crabships, battlespheres and spiderships disintegrating from the spatial tsunamis. The formation of Annihilators—each bigger than whole motherships—powered their rear linear generators. The pulses were then turned around and around in their central spheres, gathering energy and velocity till the nova balls shot out from the maw of the spheres.

The balls rushed to the center of the Nemesis formations. The explosions sent massive brilliant shockwaves—circles extending out radiating from the epicenters like ripples in the surface of the space time fabric. Like tsunamis in the middle of a powerful typhoon, the waves ripped through the formations of ships, blowing them away like houses of sticks and cards against gale force winds. The cries of death of the souls of hundreds flew with the debris of what used to be their ships. When the storms ended the frigates and fighters were literally swept away—much like what the Nemesis had also done to the Unbound—leaving several large dreadnaughts in flames or shattered pieces.

A few of the collectors/gravwells were destroyed, but not enough to stop the supernova process. The two sides were too busy destroying each other to take notice of the devices that will ultimately destroy them both.

The Atonement shook as the spatial shockwaves buffeted even this giant ship. Pieces of it broke off, and the entire length of it was aflame.

X’on had fell off balanced when the ship shook. As he recovered his footing, there was blood streaming down his head. A sore spot in his skull marked where flying debris must have hit him. But he was oblivious to his own personal pain. What hurt he more was to see his flagship, the pride of his fleet, in tatters. There were fire and wreckage all over the decks, full of the dying and the wounded, their bodies staining the walls with the red of their blood. For the first time, he felt his dreams, the dreams of vengeance and justice his people had sought for eons starting to slip away.

He could imagine now the voices of the Tiamat taunted him as they prepare for the total annihilation of his race. He turned his head on the screens, where the officers still bravely manned the control decks and repaired frantically what was broken. There he saw the Deliverer, the White Beast nova cannon dreadnaught, emerged from the dark clouds. It’s great maw energized, a massive white nova ball emerged out of it, heading full speed against a formation of the Unbound. The shockwaves tore at an Annihilator, damaging it severely, while a Spidership and a Battlesphere crumbled against the spatial tsunami.

Chapter 22 | Landing Page | Chapter 24

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