The White Beast – Chapter 25

Chapter 24 | Landing Page | Appendix

The White Beast

A Homeworld Fanfiction

by Crobato

Originally posted April 26, 2001

Chapter 25

Her father had a dream one time. Like all things, the one constant was change. Like all things, he said the Raiders had to change.

For thousands of years, the Raiders were nomads. They were pirates. They were mercenaries. They started from a core of liberated slaves, then added with other disenfranchised, dislocated races. But as their population becomes larger, as each House becomes more powerful, their enigmatic, nomadic ways had come to a pass. They settled into territories, marked by outposts and planetoid bases that laid the infrastructure for a more sophisticated society. As their society progressed, so did their technology, and with both, the demands for a greater economy.

That was what her father said. The Houses have become small kingdoms. Eventually, they must seek other means to finance their living beyond piracy, smuggling, organized crime, and mercenary activity. The Res’coom reverted to deep space mining and salvage. The For’lym moved to a lucrative business of merchant escort, toll collecting and territorial licensing. The Harkk’hah went into pilot and systems training, as well as systems development and software development. The great ability of their pilots, navigators, system administrators as well as their ability to create vast informational networks made the Harkk’hah one of the most powerful Houses in the Raider sphere, to rival even the For’lym itself. The great recorders of Raider history, the Flo’karr turned to the entertainment media and software development, but also serve as valuable spies with their vast web of internal connections. The Soo’nan went into engineering, building ships, bases and designing new weapons. Some stayed with their traditional disciplines, the Hu’nan as smugglers, and the Du’ran as assault mercenaries. As guilds and specialties formed, the vaunted Raider society has become predictably increasingly complex.

For the small House of Khor in its own small corner of the Spiral, Zerun said there must be a change. In his earlier days, like many of the Raiders, Zerun Khor was a mercenary chieftain in the employ of the last Taiidan emperor. There were things that he had done that he was not proud of, and he never told them to his daughter. When the last emperor fell, Zerun saw the need for a change. He saw what the Flo’karr has built with the Turan planetoid; a center for free commerce; a place of meeting and gather; an oasis of food and refreshment in deep space; a port for the trade, construction, repair and maintenance of ships and goods; a base for toll collecting and licensing over the territory of space it claimed and protected. When the Imperialist loyalties became vassals to the Raiders, the plans were put on hold., But he talked of them to his daughter. A life of war, he said, was not a life he wanted for his daughter. What he had established, what he had gained through the blood of war, must be preserved through the sanctity of peace. She could tell, towards his final days, that he had become weary of war.

He would never live to see his dream though, and the House of Khor was nearly destroyed in the Beast war. Now it was time for her to make his dream come true.

The last expedition was, relatively, a good haul for the Mule. It was the first since they have returned home. They have found a former battlespace, a graveyard full of wrecks, and now the halls and docks of the carriers were just filled with scrap. Two armed merchant ships purchased from the Hu’nan assisted in the salvage collection. With four Assassin class frigates as escort, the Mule and the two merchant ships materialized in Khor territorial space.

Ahead of them was the old makeshift base temporarily leased from the Taiidani. The Somtaaw had been mining an asteroid swarm temporarily passing through the Khor space. Mining these asteroids would have been a deadly job for the antiquated and clumsy Res’coom Gatherer class miners, or even for the traditional Taiidani Harvester class resource collectors. It was a job better suited for the agile and efficient Worker class resourcers of the Somtaaw kiith of Hiigara, for a lucrative commission. It was better than just letting the asteroids pass through, with no income for both parties. It was a clever deal masterminded by Seejuk Liirhra, her self appointed business manager and executive officer.

In a farther orbit lay the massive gridwork for a new Raider Outpost. The Soonani had objected to building the base so close to Somtaaw operations, sensing it would betray Soonani stealth technology to the Somtaaw. The Somtaaw on the other hand, made the same objection, that Soonani engineers are too close to the Somtaaw mining operations and can easily spy on their prized mining technology. Whatever. She was the paying customer, and they better live with it. Keep her fingers crossed, for the truth was, she had people spying on both.

Coming out from hyperspace, Soo’nani Bludgeon class tugs grappled and moved huge girders to the building site. The Bludgeons were quite a contrast to the Somtaaaw Minion class heavy tugs. For one thing, the Bludgeons made the Minions look light and small. If Bludgeons were ever involved in a war, a single tug could ram a heavy cruiser right through. But the Soo’nan prized these expensive powerful tugs to ever see the frontline. The sight of these powerful tugs, were however, a major blow to the egos of the Minion crews in the vicinity towing crystals off the passing asteroid swarm.

All along the construction site, there were corvette sized ships with large manipulative arms. They somewhat resembled Taiidani Tiirshak salvage corvettes, but were in reality, Soo’nan Builder class corvettes. They exhibit extremely good agility as they hover between the girders and the scaffolds, welding things with their finely precise arms. It would not take long for the Soo’nan to finish the site. The Outpost had a modular, section by section construction. The sections themselves were constructed in the Soo’nan shipyards, then the Bludgeons towed them to the build site, where the Builders assemble them.

From the bridge of the Mule, Zha noted the appearance of an extremely large warship. “You didn’t tell me that the Marauder was here, Seejuk,” she quipped.

“I didn’t know either, honest,” Seejuk replied. “A Raider dreadnaught prototype in vicinity of a Somtaaaw mining operation would give the Somtaaw the fits. But I can think of a couple of logical reasons why it’s here. One, they’re using the ship as a base for the building operations. The ship has tender equipment. Second, as a defense for the build site, possibly to scare off Somtaaw scouts from getting too close to the Outpost. But again, there can be other reasons which we will find out soon enough. Note that the Somtaaw got gravwells and Hive frigs along a perimeter in their mining area.”

Zha laughed. The thought of pairing the Somtaaw and the Soonan within visual sight of each other was hilarious and mischievous.

The Mule circled around the construction site as the merchant ships docked into the makeshift base. Zha felt proud as she inspected the gridwork on her scanners. Finally, the House of Khor has regained its Outpost. It will no longer be an outcast House. An Outpost establishes permanence, presence and prestige.

It was the dream coming true. The joy would have been more complete, if her father ever saw this.

The Mule headed back to the makeshift base, where it would unload its cargo and passengers. For Zha, it was good to be back once again. Down the plank, she saw someone familiar. Of course, she would naturally expect him since the Marauder was here. This time however, he had a woman and some children with him.

“Oh well, Maalasi, it’s sure nice to see you here,” Zha greeted him.

“They have put me back into production again, and has assigned me to head your building project,” Maalasi said. “But excuse my rudeness, I wish to introduce you to my wife and my little ones.”

“Your family?”

“Yes,” Maalasi replied. “The construction will take a bit of time, but the debugging and sorting out issues will take even longer, along with the training of crews and all sorts of little niggly details I am paid and contracted to handle that you do not need to know about. All part of our aftermarket support. Because of the time needed, I need my family to be near.”

“Of course, we do not have any objections with regards to your family’s stay,” Seejuk said, nudging Zha on the shoulder. “Indeed, we are happy that you brought them along. It would be nice to see some children in the vicinity for a while.”

“I do have another detail that my superiors want to deal with you about. It is with regards to the Marauder,” Maalasi said with a tinge of reluctance. “Although it was a dreadnaught-heavy cruiser prototype, we never meant it to enter battle. However, coming along with your expedition to the Mohilim system had caused extensive damage to the ship due to the battles needed to support your carrier. They have decided to bill you for the extensive damage and repairs done on the ship.”

“WHAT?” Zha shouted. “Are you out of your mind?”

“However, there is a compromise. Our House intends to build a new generation tender ship and given the demand is nonexistant for a Raider battleship,” Maalasi explained. “We are willing to sell the Marauder to you at greatly discounted prices.”

“WHAT?” Zha shouted. “Look if I end up with your old ship, I use up one slot of the three slots I have that the House Treaty allowed for major capital ships. The Mule is already taking up one slot and I want to reserve my allocation for carriers only.”

“That is not a problem,” Maalasi replied. “The Marauder has long been classified by the House as a tender ship, not a battleship. Which means it is a support and repair ship, not a warship. You can have the Marauder and still have your two allocation slots left.”

“That’s quite interesting, Maalasi,” Seejuk said. “That throws a new light on things.”

“But the money…” Zha interjected.

“We have an excellent schedule of payments we can offer to you,” Maalasi said. “You can start paying us next year. However, if you wish to take possession of the Marauder immediately you are welcome to, but I wish to lend the ship to assist in the Outpost construction.”

“Zha, considering your Raider rivals have picked up Taiidan Qwaar Jets and keeping them in violation of the Treaty, having a Raider dreadnaught can be quite an effective deterrent tool,” Seejuk explained.

“You think so?” Zha said. “The Raiders have long preferred to use fast alpha strikes with massed strike craft or frigates from carriers, which is one reason the dreadnaught idea never took off among the Houses. But if the price is good enough, and I think we need to cut down the price even more, I think we can use another defensive ship. Seejuk, Maalasi, meet me in my offices…”

***

He had stayed in the Khor base for a while along with Kuo’ran, and they have both wrapped up their studies. They had a wonderful adventure that was more than what they bargained for, and in addition, they would bring back a wealth of data on galactic history and the Outer sector races back to Hiigara. The new Hiigarans are the babies of the great Spiral, a galaxy teeming with ancient races. The Hiigarans are armed only with a vague recollection of their glorious past from ancient myths. Now the work was over.

Now it was time to say good bye.

A Somtaaw Processor ship, escorted by Dervishes and Hive frigates, had come within orbit of the Khor base, and will dock as soon as the Mule unloaded her goods. The Processor ship will take both him and Kuo’ran, along with mined resources, to a rendezvous with an Explorer class vessel, possibly the Kun-Laan, not far from the Khor sector space. The Explorer class vessel is on a return journey to Hiigara.

For Giirsa, there was a part of him that would never let go. He waited in the corridor for Zhura, the Raider scholar, who had volunteered to help him in his research, who had shown an aura of mystery, a keen intelligence and a striking icy courage in their adventure to the Mohilim star. That and her physical appearance, he felt deep inside him, this was one woman he would miss. He had only one opportunity left.

She was there to meet him, in her robes and tablet, with her long raven hair, deep inquisitive eyes, tight lean figure and pouty, lusty lips. Her eyes was sad with the knowledge that he had to return to Hiigara. They had worked so closely, yet everything had been intellectual, and they had never gathered enough courage to overcome their racial and social barriers. They had together faced the worst of the Unbound and the Nemesis, but not their own personal feelings. As she stared at him and into his eyes, she swallowed a lump in her throat.

“There is something I need to tell you…” Giirsa whispered, his head bending down over hers, his eyes probing her eyes and telegraphing his intentions. Her head did not back off as his lips came closer to hers, and soon the two lips were together, their tongues in an embrace. He embraced her hard, his arms around her back, and her arms behind him.

“Well, well, well, leave you together and see what happens?” There was Kuo’ran, leaning against the wall at the end of the corridor, playing with her fingernails. She was back to her old bitchy self, long robes, twin ponytails and those ugly large spectacles. For a moment a while back, there was hope for this girl, when her hair was all down, wearing that silvery tight one piece suit, without those glasses, she appeared like the beautiful woman she was supposed to be. He guessed that there are things that can evolve, like the White Beast, and there are things that will always stay the same, like Kuo’ran the Academy bitch.

“You know that Gaalel Kiithsa are not supposed to be mixing with unauthorized females of other Kiithid, much less that of an alien race and a former enemy…” Kuo’ran reminded him. “I wonder what your father will say if he learns about his. Or if the rest of Hiigara were to know.”

“Are you proposing a blackmail? eh Kuo’ran? I never thought that a Sjet would stoop this low…” Giirsa replied.

“Who sez anything about a blackmail? My dear Giirsa, you have deeply insulted the bloodline of Sjet. I don’t really need your money. I just have a loud mouth, you know,” Kuo’ran remarked.

“So what does it take to shut your mouth,” Giirsa uttered.

“I want equal credit, equal share, equal bylines on all the findings in all your reports and documents. We will make our presentation together in the Academy…” Kuo’ran demanded. “To be fair, I will do so with my reports and documents. This expedition is a fair and equal deal for the two of us.”

“Okay I will agree, we have equal credit on everything, but you must help me in one other thing,” Giirsa answered.

“And what is that?”

“Help me make an excuse to come back to the Raider sectors,” Giirsa said.

Kuo’ran looked at Zhura then back to Giirsa. “I can see what your excuse is,” Kuo’ran grinned “Okay, I will help you find an excuse to get back here.”

“But Giirsa…” Zhura stared at his eyes.

“We will find a way to see each other again, don’t worry,” he said.

“I better get on my way,” Kuo’ran said. “Got bags to do. Hmm, my glasses are so foggy from the heat. I could not see anything. I didn’t see anything like two lovebirds on the corrigdor. I better get going.” She tiptoed quickly out of there.

When all was clear, Giirsa stared deep into Zhura’s eyes once again. “Now where were we…”

***

They were never seen again. Well, the Tiamat have always been enigmatic. They only appear when they have a sinister purpose. But for the Nemesis, scouts sent to the Mohilim area revealed nothing, not even their Moonships where their population base were supposed to be. Nobody in the known space had ever seen the angels released from the core of the White Beast, other than the five passengers of the Corsair. Kuo’ran Sjet and Giirsa Kaalel would describe them in their books, but these sightings quickly turned to an urban legend. Pilots and passengers of ships cruising the Outer Rim sectors, would, time and time again, report sightings of angels, and some photographs were even taken, but all were dismissed as popular myth.

Angels are among the myths and legends of so many ancient races in the known galaxy, but they remain simply just that. Angels simply could not exist.

In the Khor sector, in an asteroid, a figure bathed in a soft bioluminence, peered over the rim of a crater, watching the construction of the new Outpost. Besides him was a girl, also a crystalline figure in bioluminence, observing the activities.

She had done well, the Zerun self thought. He would have been proud. The Zha self was proud too, for what her flesh counterpart had done. With a thought, the Zerun self signaled to the Zha self that they must go. Their rainbow wings of psionic energy extended to their full span, but with cloaking fields, they could not be detected by the Somtaaw Workers mining nearby. With only a thought of effort, the angels disappeared into the cosmos.

Zha felt something and looked out to see through the windows, but there was nothing. There were other matters to attend to. She waved good bye to Giirsa and Kuo’ran as they entered the Processor ship, and Kuo’ran waved back ethusiastically. Far in the new Great Nebula of Mohilim, the gases have started to condense. Clumps of heavier elements—carbon, iron, silicon, nitrogen, oxygen—have formed into compounds, and they in turn formed into ice, rocks and boulders. There was a pinkish orange glare throughout the space, as many clouds that continued their nuclear fire provide the dominating sole source of light in the new nebula. Somewhere inside, there was a movement, something sucking, drawing things into its maw using its tentacles like a giant protozoan. A crystalline Fly scout searched for new resources, flapping its shimmering wings, with an angel following it. Nearby tentacles of pure psionic energy gather food to the maw of the anemone like resource collector. Once satiated, the giant anemone slowly turned back to its controller, a larger five armed creature shaped like a starfish. When the controller was done, it too, would return back to its mother…

Chapter 24 | Landing Page | Appendix

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