The White Beast – Chapter 4

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The White Beast

A Homeworld Fanfiction

by Crobato

Originally posted April 26, 2001

Chapter 4

It was the time of the Festivities, and it was the opportunity for the Flo’karr to gather the stories and tales from all the numerous Houses of the Raiders and record them in song and poem for all their children to hear.

But Zhura, following the quest sought by her father, had another purpose. As Flo’karr scribes interviewed and downloaded all the recent tales of the Raiders, she focused on incidents that occurred in the Frontier sector, a sector of space not even touched by the Taiidani during the height of their Empire. Beyond the Frontier lay the great Abyss, the vast space between the Galaxies, where there is nothing but a few star clusters and where Dark Matter reside. Dark Matter is the primordial matter left over from Universal Creation, and it can harbor no life, so no life can exist in the Abyss. But can a civilization resource and live on Dark Matter?

One of the interviewed was a Res’coom miner. The Inner House of Res’coom had the richest mining fleet among the Raiders. Like the shipbuilding Soo’nan, the religious Ra’huum, and the intellectual Flo’kaars, the Res’coom deviated from the traditional Raider philosophies and way of life as mercenaries and pirates. They chose a more peaceful way of life, preferring to mine the gases and the asteroids among the stars. Instead of mining into to the Inner Galaxy, they are attracted by the untouched immense resources, in the Frontier sectors in the Outer Rim of the Galaxy, where they can often mine in peace. As a peaceful Raider clan, they had minimal military resources, and often relied on their closest allies, the House of For’lym for protection of their trade routes. The For’lym has the most powerful Raider fleets, and they guard the trade routes and the mining spaces of the Res’cooom, who paid the For’lym protection money.

The Res’coom mining ship is a unique one. It is shaped like a giant sphere with huge engines on it. The sphere bristled with antennae for far reaching sensors to detect precious ore, gas clouds and asteroids. The armor is thick, but it is unarmed, the miner being only equipped with a mimic generator for defense. The large sturdy engines and its fuel tanks gave the ship enormous range for traveling in long journeys, and the life of a Res’coom miner can be a lonely one. It contained storage tanks used to keep the ore in a liquified state, which was then brought to the Res’coom processing ship. The processing ships themselves were ungainly moving factories in space—almost never one looked alike from each other. Recently they have found a way to process crystals, using a modified Raider salvager to obtain the crystals.

But the Res’coom were also secretive. They do not disclose their mining territories not even among the Raider houses. They are only willing to share the design of their mining ships to only a few of the Houses, and none of their processing secrets. For that, their relations among the other Houses were poor. Many of the Houses were more willing to negotiate with Taiidani mining firms, and lately with Hiigaran mining enterprises like the Somtaaw. Most Houses would also prefer to use the more available Taiidani Resourcer for their own local mining than a Res’coom miner, or choose to use the Taiidani Salvage Corvette for tug uses, rather than a Res’coom tug..

Zhura understood before hand the extent of the task needed to pry secrets away from the Res’coom miner. She sat with the miner in a cozy bar. The miner had already taken a few heavy drinks. “You said you were attacked by whom, and where?”

“You know, lady, you look cute,” the miner said in drunken stupor. “You said you’re going to buy me another drink.”

“It is on the house,” Zhura said. Most of the bars aboard the Turan planetoid were owned or controlled by the Flo’karr. They supplied valuable income that allowed the peaceful Flo’karr to finance their studies. It was also a great way to obtain information and hear rumors. “But first you have to tell me what happened to you. Your mining ship carries all the marks of a heavy attack.”

The miner’s eyes were all red and the stench of his breath was heavy. “Promise me you won’t tell anyone?” The miner staggered about in his chair.

“I promise,” Zhura replied with an insincere smirk.

“We were in the Frontier sector 34B. As usual, we were just scouting for gaseous clouds and belts. We saw an asteroid belt…” the miner hesitated.

“And?” Zhura passed another drink.

The miner took the drink. “…they were mimics… and they turned into Raider ships. But they were not Raider… for a moment I saw something, something that is not like a Raider.”

“Impossible, no Raider will attack another Raider. That area was supposed to be uninhabited. It is too far in the range of other star voyaging races… ” Zhura objected.

“But that is the truth. I have the scans here in my personal tablet.” The miner handed her a portable terminal tablet. Zhura pressed a button and its screen lit up. “These energy scans are not Raider signatures,” said the miner.

Zhura observed the scans. “They’re not Raider ship signatures. Mimics pretending to be Raiders. But who?”

“I don’t know,” the miner said. “I have reported the incident to the For’lym, but they insist it’s another Raider House. They’re not willing to confront the possibility of an unknown, quite advanced race out there that may threaten the Res’coom mining territories and trade routes, and a race that they cannot handle. It’s all political. The Res’coom will get scared and pull out of the sectors. The For’lym will be embarrassed and the Res’coom will cancel all protection contracts. The For’lym will lose money. It all boils down to that.”

“We were attacked deliberately. We hid If it were not for our own mimic capabilities, we would have been killed.

“Can I borrow the tablet?” Zhura asked.

“Can I get another drink?” the miner said. Zhura waved to the bartender, and the miner flushed down the next drink quickly. “Can’t refuse a pretty lady. Just remember to return it before I leave.” The miner appeared close to being knocked out.

When Zhura returned to the studies room, her father Salim was still there, reading and taking notes, still avidly pursuing his theory. “I have some information” she told him.

Salim stood straight on his chair, looking attentive. “Let’s hear it dear.”

Zhura began. “I have been taking note of an increasingly number of disturbing incidents along the Frontier sectors.”

“The Frontier sectors are supposed to be uninhabited. There is no sign of an Outpost or habitable planet. That region of space is stark.” Salim said. “How is this related to our findings? We are looking for the return of an ancient civilization, the return of our ancient enemy.”

“The number and caliber of incidents suggest the presence of an armed force there.” Zhura showed a diagram of the sector with red spots indicating where the incident happened. These areas are frontier borders, pretty much beyond would be the Abyss. The Ahagon Prophecies forecasted that the Nemesis must return from the Darkness. It can only suppose that they meant the Galactic Abyss. If there is an armed force there, there must be something to back them up.”

“That’s not all,” she said. “This tablet contains scans of mimic fighters that attacked a Res’coom mining vessel. Holographic projection is not perfect. We can use an algorhythm to filter out the holographic frequencies and come up how the ship would look like without the projection. We don’t have the technology to do this in real time speeds, but we can use it to analyze past evidence.”

She plugged the tablet interface to a terminal and downloaded the data. Her screens displayed the mimic fighters, all having the Raider appearance. “They look like Raider ships, but they are not Raider ships. Their energy and exhaust signatures are not the same. I am filtering out the holo wavelengths.”

Slow minutes went by, as a line scanned the images back and forth, back and forth. Every passing scan, the old image began to be filtered out, and a new image began to emerge. The blocky Raider forms gave way to a sharp sleek winged silhouette ending with a tail. Ports for weapons were embedded on its smooth form.

“We now see the true form of the perpetuator,” said Zhura.

“And it is the Devil’s ship,” said Salim.

“What exactly do you mean? Father,” she asked.

Salim took out some old tablets that contain ancient memory. He turned one of the tablets on, and scanned for pictures. “Here,” he pointed out. It wasn’t a photograph but the pictures were hand drawn.

“Our ancestors were slaves, and did not have access to equipment. One of them recorded events of the Liberation by sight and hand. It was a great task to do it all by sheer hand.” Salim raised his own hand, shook it and stared at it. “The time of Liberation was the time when our race was forged, when our race became free. Swearing by his oath and leadership, Baruk led the slaves and gave us freedom. The ones who recorded it by hand, would become the founders of the Flo’karr. It is this spirit that we keep.”

“In this pages you see that during the time of Liberation was the time of the Great War of the Heavens. The Nemesis who enslaved us and defied the gods. They wrought a terrible war that nearly destroyed all life. See the pictures here. They are hand drawn but in great detail. They showed ships, called demons here, filling the skies in great numbers, rising to challenge the gods. If you look at the ships closer under magnification, Zhura…”

“I see, Father, they look like that ship.”

“No Raider alive has ever seen a ship of the Nemesis,” Salim said. “We have long thought that their demise was complete. Look at the writings on the ship you scanned, and match to the writings in this ship.”

“I see, they are similar too,” Zhura observed.

“Yes, we may now have evidence of the return of the Nemesis,” said Salim. “We need to convince the Council when it convenes for the Oath taking.”

“This is all too circumstantial, Father. The Council would require more than a hazy photograph with holographic filter extrapolation to convince them that the Nemesis have returned. They believed that the prophecies have already passed, and there is no threat from the Nemesis. Many don’t even believe the Nemesis ever existed at all, and the stories were all fairy talesI would need stronger evidence than this, Father.”

Salim sighed. Zhura was correct. “But we still have to try my child,” he said. “Imagine the storm that will come to our people if they are not warned.”

***

Aboard the Mule…

“There it is,” Zha said, pointing to the screens. “The Turan Planetoid, ceremonial homeworld for the Raiders.” A large asteroid loomed, structures pocking the surface with various structures. The place has become the ceremonial gathering for all Raiders to renew their Oath. Formerly a mine, the planetoid has been hollowed; its core filled with a living city. What started as the site of discovery by the Taiidans first became a planetoid-based outpost, and then a major port that symbolized the Raiders to the known Galaxy. Elected to take care of the Planetoid is the Flo’karr, and whoever has the responsibility, also has the responsibility as the mediator for disputes among the Raiders.

The scene was breathless for Seejuk, Giirsa and Kuo’ran. Ships by the hundreds of all kinds, were parked in rows extending for miles from the planet in straight lines. The Fleet Intelligence estimated in the size and number of ships, starting from the carrier task forces, missed it by a magnitude. Small satellites blinking red lights serve as markers where the huge ships can park. Ahead of them, the carrier the Soran has settled, its fighter escorts have withdrawn and docked with the ship, its frigate escorts settling near its side. Most of the Mule’s own frigate escort was left guarding the Khor mining base, but two Ion Array Frigates escorted the Mule as an act of ceremony.

The comlink screens flashed with a face. “Welcome, the Segura Zha and all representatives of the House of Khor. Welcome to the Gathering. Welcome to the Turan Planetoid. Please follow the parking instructions for your carrier.” The Mule settled into its designated parking spot, and the two Ion Array Frigates settled close to it. Towards the adjacent parking spots, they could see more carriers, and even major capital ships.

“I swear,” Seejuk said, “You got Destroyer and Heavy Cruisers class ships. I never thought the Raiders have them.”

Zha explained. “Oh some of the Houses do, but these ships are not popular. Few are actually built by the House of Soo’nan, but some of them were bought from the Taiidans, and our modified Taiidan ships. Because they’re expensive, they hardly see combat. Generally they’re just for ceremonial purposes, what other Houses use to show off. Besides, the number of Destroyers, Cruisers, Carriers or anything beyond a Frigate is regulated by the Council according to the Treaty of Houses. Each House has a quota on the number of major ships they are allowed to build. To go beyond that quota, you need a special dispensation from the Council. This is to prevent one House from becoming too strong over the rest. That is why to build an Outpost, one has to request a permission from the Council. That is one reason we are here.”

“But what about frigates and strike forces?” Giisa asked.

“There is no regulation on that. It’s one of the Treaty’s loopholes,” Zha said. “That is why we rely mostly on frigates, corvettes and fighters. The Carrier is the heart of all Raider forces. It is armed to the maximum because of all the roles it must face, including direct ship to ship combat. The way our forces are structured, has served us well.”

A face flashed in the comlink screen. It was Zhoan, chewing on something, big dark shady visors dominating his face. “Zha, I am sending a shuttle to you right now. We will just go together and take one ship for convenience.”

Aboard the shuttle, Zhoan boasted a major grin in his face. “So what do you think you Kushans? Very few Outsiders have ever been to the Gathering, mostly Taiidans. This year we have some Taiidans on board, but you three are the first ever Kushans to ever see the Gathering and witness the Oath.”

“Are we going to meet the Flo’karr?” Giirsa asked. “Yes I want to ask about that too,” Kuo’ran said.

“All in due time, my friends,” Zhoan said. “The Flo’karr is responsible for the Celebrations, and they would be very busy coordinating the events. We will take our time and we will meet them when the time is right.”

“I must say, this is going to be the biggest party I will ever attend,” Seejuk commented. “I am very thankful for being here.” Giirsa and Kuo’ran nodded in agreement.

“Before we meet the Council, we need to talk with the Soo’nan,” Zha said. “They’re the ship builders and prime engineers for the Raiders. They build the Outposts. We need to discuss with them the terms and costs of construction, go through the plans and schematics for changes and customization. After the Council approves the construction, we need to settle on a price and date of delivery.”

“You know Zha,” Seejuk said “I got contacts with the Liirhra that are very much interested to build a replica of the Outpost. They said they could use the contract, the money and the job.”

“We’ve been through this before, Seejuk,” Zha countered. “It just won’t be right or authentic. The Soo’nan have to build it.”

“Okay, all right, you’re the boss on this,” Seejuk said.

As the shuttle headed to the Planetoid, Seejuk noticed some strange looking ships. He waved his finger at them.

“Miner ships from the House of Res’coom,” Zhoan pointed out. “You never seen one before? Not surprised. Very secretive group, very zealous about their mining territories. Not very popular with the rest of community, both the people and the ships. Most other Houses prefer to mine on their own, generally using Taiidani resourcers like what you have on both your ship and my ship. See that miner ship there? It looks pretty beat up. I wonder who attacked it. Those tugs over there probably towed it.” Zhoan pointed to another Turanic ship rarely seen in other parts of knownspace—a Raider tugship. “That one is just small. Wait till you see a Soo’nani Tugship.”

The shuttle settled in the docking bay, where welcoming staff greeted Raider luminaries.

“Welcome, the Segura Zha of the House of Khor and her Party! I am Malaasi of the House of Soo’nan. I have been appointed to escort you and deal with you concerning any future projects,” said a short man in robes who bowed.

“So soon!” Zha acted surprised. “How did your House know that I am in the market for an Outpost?”

“Word travels quickly around,” Malaasi responded. “My superiors have ordered me that it is imperative that I must have your contract.”

“You are so blunt…” Zha said. Suddenly she turned around, distracted. There was a man there in the crowd. She blinked her eyes again and again. The man looked like her father, Zerun, in the ceremonial clothing of the Khor House. He moved in and out of the crowd like a ghost, then disappeared. She blinked her eyes again, then wiped a spontaneous moistness in her eyes.

Just an illusion, she thought. He had always brought her to the Gatherings, watch the Festivals and hear the Oaths. These were the better days, the happier days. This was the first time she had gone to the Gathering without him. If only he was here, to see her grown, to see what she had done, and guide her in decisions to rebuild the House.

“Are you all right, Zha?” Seejuk asked.

“Nothing, I’m fine now,” Zha responded, then turned her attention to the Malaasi. “You salesmen work so fast, like vermin after spoiled food.”

“We are entering a fairly peaceful age in Raider history. Naturally we will see our markets cut. We need the contracts to keep our drydocks open and our engineers employed,” Malaasi explained.

Zhoan turned to explain a few things to the Kushan party. “It’s is good to see the Soo’nani squirm once in a while. One time, there was a war between two interstellar races. The Soo’nani stepped in to sell arms and ships for both of them, lengthening the war more than it should, costing the economies and the population of both races more than it should”

“I see,” Girrsa said. “If there are pirates and mercenaries among the Raiders, the picture is not complete with your arms dealers. What about drug dealers?”

“That would be the province of the House of Harkk’hah,” Zhoan answered. “The Harkk’hah have huge farmships that raise a drug, a spice, that is used with a breathable liquid environment to raise consciousness and awareness, needed to pilot a fighter ship to the highest attainable level of skill. The drug can be addicting you know, I like it myself. ” He sniffed his suit. “The Harkk’hah has the best pilots and navigators of all the Houses, and the drugs have been the key. We believe they have an even more potent drug that they keep to themselves as an inhouse advantage, to give their pilots and navigators an edge ove the other Houses.”

“And we built those Farmships,” Malaasi interjected. “Just as our ancestors did this Planetoid.”

“Quite impressive engineering achievements,” Seejuk commented.

“We have more for you to see,” Maalasi said. “Come to our booth. And by the way, you are all honored guests of the House of Soo’nan. Your accommodation bills with the Flo’karr carekeepers will be paid by the Soo’nan.”

“I thought the stay would be free,” Kuo’ran said, clutching a bag.

“It is now,” Zha added.

With every Gathering, the Turan planetoid has been turned into a giant marketplace. Traders from all around, mostly Raiders, have come to peddle their wares and sell their services. Many of the precious items were salvaged or taken from piracy, as Zhoan explained. Poets and scribes from the Flo’karr will record one’s achievements into ballad, epic poems and songs, for a fee. The Harkk’hah was out to sell the Pilot’s Spice, as they called it Raiders stood along the corridors touting their achievements, entertaining crowds with their martial expertise. Others boast of their records in battle, looking to be hired for mercenary work. Others sought jobs as pilots, navigators, and ship engineers. There were many bars and entertainment centers, where dancers danced in front of jeering crowds.

“This is an opportunity to sell what you can build and what you can do,” Zhoan explained. “Naturally, all the criminal elements and warlords of knownspace would come here to scout for new talent. This is also a good opportunity if you are looking to hire a new crew or expand on the one you have. Outsiders are allowed in the Bazaar area, in the festivities and in the competitions. But the Oathtaking itself will be private for the Raiders, except for guests that were directly invited.”

“This is like the circus back when I was young in Kharak,” Seejuk said.

They came to the Soo’nani booth, and Malaasi served them chairs to sit on. “I wish to show you our wares, the newest innovations in Soo’nani engineering.” He revealed some ship models and passed them to his guests, then turned on a terminal in the desk. The terminal displayed ships that were parked outside of the Planetoid. Seejuk saw that these were ships that he had never seen before.

“The latest trend in Raider technology is plasma bomb weapons,” Maalasi said.

“No doubt copied from Taiidani technology,” Seejuk said.

“Exactly, exactly!” Maalasi responded. “First we were copying the Taiidani Attack Bomber. Then we learned how to adapt the Plasma bomb system to our unique chassis design. Then we made it better. This first ship here is the Outlaw attack bomber. As you see, it is based on the Demon fighter chassis, which itself was an enhancement of the Bandit fighter chassis made to increase space. The price is amazing, at 70 RU’s, you get light corvette firepower. The next ship here is the Buccaneer plasma bomb corvette. At 135 RU’s, this corvette can dish out the firepower of a Taiidani Heavy Corvette. It uses a simplified version of the Thief corvette chassis. For 30 RU’s more, you can have them upgraded with mimic generators.”

“Cheap, but you’re ripping off on the mimic generators,” Seejuk observed.

“The next ship here is the Payback class plasma bomb frigate,” Maalasi continued. The model looked like a crude Taiidani Assault Frigate with four huge engine nozzles in the rear. “Mimic options are standard. 500 RU cost Our frigates have been saddled by the lack of proper weapons coverage, and the Terror addresses it.”

“Expensive, for something that looks like a second hand Kudaark,” Seejuk said.

“The next ship here is the Corsair class cruise missile frigate.” Maalasi handed them a model that looked like a larger ion array frigate without panels. “Instead of an ion cannon, this ship is designed to launch anti capital ship cruise missiles. Each missile is basically a drone that carries quantum explosives. The ship carries cloaking generators. Without energy weapons, the ship is undetectable when it fires these missiles.”

“Now that is interesting,” Seejuk said.

“How much is it?” Zha asked.

“It comes with a bargain price of 800 RU’s, cloaking included.”

“That’s expensive,” Zha responded.

“Not expensive considering what it does,” Malaasi said. “This thing can wreak havoc on any enemy resource operations and supply convoys. Already the For’lym and the Harrk’hah have adopted all four designs. We are trying to get the rest of the houses to use them. The neat thing about the Corsair class is they’re meant to circumvent capital ship restrictions set in the Treaty of Houses.”

“But I am not really interested on these ships. The ones I have are doing fine,” Zha said. “I just want to talk about the Outpost.”

“But we are talking about the Outpost,” Maalasi clarified. “Every Outpost has ship building facilities. When you get the newest versions of the Outpost, they will include the facilities to build these ships. It is part of the package.”

“But if I don’t want them, can the Outpost be cheaper?” Zha asked.

“No, because that’s the way, they’re going to be built. Look, the Segura Zha, let’s put it this way. We will also throw in the facilities to do the Ambusher class Missile Frigate for free.”

“Missile Frigate?”

“Where have you been, all you people? You have been missing the Gathering events. We introduced the Ambusher class last year, as well as the Backlash class of minelaying corvette.” Maalasi showed a Thief like corvette with mine laying ports.

“Can the Boomer be added?” Zha asked.

“Sure. What’s piracy without mine fields anyway?” Maalasi said. “Since I am in a good mood, we got two sample Corsair and Payback class frigates parked outside the Planetoid. They’re yours if you have the intent to get the Outpost from us.”

“You’re pushing a lot of crap hard, why the hard sell?” Seejuk asked.

“Competition,” Maalasi explained. “Some Houses have decided to out source on their own, acquiring factory ships from the Taiidani. The For’lym and the Res’coom are planning a partnership to make their own ship ventures. Other Houses are importing models from the Taiidani, and the Taiidani arms dealers are invading our turf. Look at that Taiidani booth there!” He pointed to a booth where a Taiidani arms merchant was peddling weapons and ships. “We need to stay relevant with the times.”

Maalasi stood up. “Look I can see you just got here. I need to ease up a bit. You have time to decide on this. This is the time of Festivities and you should be enjoying. Let me show you around the area, I want to notify you that there will be the fighter race competition tomorrow which we are the official sponsors. Winner gets a year’s supply of the Pilot Spice and a discount to all projects contracted to the Soo’nan.”

“Count me in for that, Maalasi,” Zha said.

***

Aboard the Atonement…

“Has the White Beast been towed to a star system yet?” asked the X’on.

“Yes, Overlord,” the staff bowed. “The White Beast had been weakened and starving of both energy and mineral resource. Ever since it has fled the Innerspace to the Darkspace, it has hungered. The Dark Matter hid the energy of the stars and interfered with its senses and navigation. The White Beast had been towed and placed in orbit around a star.”

“Good, now it is time for me to meet it,” X’on said.

“Meet it? Are you seriously considering going down to the Beast planetoid itself to meet its Core Self?”

“Yes,” X’on answered. “It is something I must do to gain the creature’s trust.”

Aboard the shuttle, on the way to the Beast planetoid, X’on noted the solar collectors orbiting around the Beast planetoid, each collector with petals spanning for miles. The collectors were like gigantic flowers, sprung up from the bowels of the Beast itself, to harvest the energy of the starlight and beam them down to the surface. He was informed that the Beast had sent out resource collectors of its own to harvest the asteriod belts orbiting around the star, but it may not be enough to satisfy the energy hunger of the Beast.

It was amazing what this new Beast variant could do, X’on thought. It could evolve new forms of ships, each almost like a living organism, an integration between living matter, semiconductor and metal.

The shuttle passed through the garden of the collectors, then the thin whispy clouds that seemed form a small atmosphere around the planetoid. Despite its size, the planetoid was generating enough artificial gravity of its own to create that atmosphere.

Down the shuttle went to the surface. On it, there seemed to be an immense chasm with no end, and the shuttle dived through it, into the core of the planetoid.

It was dark, but the white crystals all around them glowed with a rhythm that says life. The shuttle landed gently, and in a space suit, X’on disembarked off the shuttle and stepped foot on the smooth hard crystalline surface.

“Welcome tiny Fleshy Selves. It is of great risk to come to the maw of the Core Self. What makes you think I will not destroy you?”

“Because I trust that you will do the right thing. I am X’on, Overlord of the Imperium. If you destroy me, my fleet will torpedo your collectors and rain death down to your surface. They await my return. But you know my intentions. You have starved of energy and material. You are a creature lost and hungry. My fleet has towed you to this star so that you may feed, grow and live. Is this the action of your enemy? Is this the action of your enemy to come down unarmed to your core so he may meet your Core Self?”

A glowing translucent tentacle rose from the surface. X’on was repulsed at its sight, but it let the tentacle hover around him, curiously sensing his form.

“What is your purpose, Flesh self?”

“I seek an Alliance with your Self,” X’on said. “We are two different creatures, but our fate is one. We know what happened in the innerspace. The races of fleshy selves have hunted and destroyed the Selves and every fragment they can find. They fear you, they fear your power and perfection. So they seek your ultimate destruction in alliance with the Unbound selves.”

“So you run away from innerspace, to the darkspaces, where stars are low and young, where dark matter is prevalent, hiding the stars’ energy, blinding your senses. You are lost and you are starving. If I had not found you, you and all your selves, would eventually die.”

“Is this true, Flesh Self?”

“As I trust you, you must trust me. Trust me to say, that even our componental matter is not the same, our fates are. We are the Imperium, once we rule the galaxy, all the breadth of innerspace, all of the vastness of knownspace. No empire has ever matched our power.”

“But one day, the Unbound selves, in envy and alarmed of our power, cast a great war upon us. At the same time, the multitudes of our subject races, rebelled our glorious and enlightened reign. Together, they destroyed the Imperium, the one force of Order in the galaxy, at great cost for all life. Like you, we were hunted, and then force to cast out to the darkspace, in the Abyss between the galaxies.”

“We in the many millennia, has survived. The selves of flesh continue to fear us, and called us the Nemesis. Like you, we can hear the songs of the planets and the stars. Our spirits are one.”

“Even now the cursed ones and their Unbound allies plot our complete annihilation. If we do not ally, we will be destroyed. If we destroy them first, we will not just assure our survival, but bring order again to the galaxy.”

“Order. Order is the primary programming of the Core Self. Chaos must be stopped.”

“So we have an agreement?”

“X’on self, your heart is dark but your purpose may be true.”

The shuttle broke through the thin layer of crowds. Beyond the rows of gigantic solar collectors, lay X’on’s armada in a massive parade formation.

Aboard the Atonement, the staff asked X’on, as he settled on his throne. “We have an alliance,” X’on confirmed.

Chapter 3 | Landing Page | Chapter 5

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