The White Beast – Chapter 6

Chapter 5 | Landing Page | Chapter 7

The White Beast

A Homeworld Fanfiction

by Crobato

Originally posted April 26, 2001

Chapter 6

What looked like a Raider Ion Array Frigate orbited around a gas giant, the giant’s rocky rings provided the cover the Raiders have so traditionally and skillfully exploited. The combination of the rockes, the gravity and magnetic fields both by the giant and the asteroids tend spoil sensors. It was a perfect hiding place. The Flo’karr research and early warning vessel the Albagnon belongs to the Seeker class, which was essentially a modified Ion Array Frigate. The beam cannon had been removed for a long telescope array, while the ion array panels were replaced with long range sensor panels. The slim hull was preserved, and so was the cloaking or mimic equipment. The arrays were all pointed to the outer regions of the galaxy

“We have massive readings on the Mohilim sector,” said a researcher.

“Looks like a small nova,” said the captain. “It is rare to have energy readings of that sort in a rather slow and benign sector. Keep recording the event, the area has been full of anomalous readings lately.”

Hours later, the sensors went off again, and the captain rushed to his chair.

“We got multiple jump readings! Hyperspace signatures detected!” said the sensors officer.

“Go into tactical alert,” said the captain watching the red blips on the screen. “Raise the mimic generators! We are going into silent running. I repeat, we are going silent. Cut all power except for sensors and life support systems.”

The Albagnon turned into a small asteroid. Inside the ship, all the lights went out, the engine hum turned silent, and the only illumination was the glowing lights from the control panels. The dimly lit faces turned their tense attention to the captain.

“Give me a magnification of the enemy fleet,” the captain ordered.

“Looks like Bentusi ships, Sir!” said one of the officers.

“They’re not Tradeships. Too small, too sleek for that, and it’s got energy signatures of weapons all over. Engine energy signature is Bentusi. I think we are seeing a new kind of Bentusi ship that has never been seen before. It resembles a Somtaaw Archangel, and is possibly a dreadnaught,” said the captain. Unlike most Raiders, Flo’karr commanding officers were well educated about the many races of the galactic knownspace.

“I thought the Bentusi were a peaceful race. Why the warships?”, one of the more youthful officers in the bridge asked.

The captain watched the screens intensely. “Not just Bentusi, but look at this. The radial symmetry of the ships indicate Tiamat, though these are smaller than a Tiamat Spider class mothership. The sensor readings of the arms show it to be well armed. These ships here, they are neither Tiamat nor Bentusi, but they probably belong to other lesser known and obscure Unbound races such as the Naga and the Sakmat. Look they’re falling into a military formation.”

“I would speculate that this is a Galactic Council task force, possibly to police the sector. But why?” The captain seemed bothered. “The Council never poked their nose at this area. There is nothing there that attracts their interest.”

“Until now,” added the main science officer. “Could it be due to the anomalous readings in the Mohilim sector? We will not know until we head to the Mohilim area.”

“Negative,” said the captain. “We must report this armed excursions from the Unbound to the Council of Inner Houses and the Assembly of Lords. But we must wait first. This fleet appears to be recharging for the next jump event. Look, they are sending patrols now!”

The Bentusi warships were discharging Super Acolyte fighters, while the Tiamat warships nearby discharged Black Acolytes. The Black Acolyte, as recorded by the Flo’karr, is the Tiamat version of the Super Acolyte, with darker colors and markings. Little is known about its weapons but it was speculated it would use a similar ion cannon. The Bentusi ships were U-shaped, and the Tiamat were radial. The Sakmat ships in contrast were spherical, while the Naga ships were all long and elongated, ending with pods on the ends, not unlike a Kadeshi needleship. The Sakmat and the Naga released fighters of their own, all superficially resembling Super Acolytes, but the detail afforded by the zoom could not discern any more detail that could differentiate them from the Bentusi and Tiamat variants other than their colors; blue for the Naga, red for the Sekmet, while the Bentusi were gold and the Tiamat black.

The fighter patrols searched out the star system, but even the senses of the Unbound was unable to detect the lone Raider Seeker class frigate. The rock belt was full of iron asteroids, each spinning, creating a myriad of confusing magnetic fields that would confuse any sensory power that can percieve the magnetic and electrical fields. The Unbound may have great powers, but even these senses had met their match to the cleverness and resourcefulness of the Raiders.

The voices inside the frigate had fallen silent as each officer concentrated collecting data on the Unbound fleet. For them, the thrill of discovery and the unknown were as exhilirating as raiding a Republican transport or smuggling through a police blockage with a Hu’ran smuggler transport.

As the Unbound police force finished their trek to the end of the system, the various Acolytes returned to their vessels. Jumpgates began to form, and the armada of the Unbound slipped through them.

“Should we follow them?” asked an officer.

“Are you nuts? Negative. This event must be reported to the Council of Houses and all the Lords,” said the captain. “Make a final sweep to make sure not one of the Unbound is still in the vicinity.”

“All clear,” said the sensors officer.

“Retract all sensor panels, and power to engines,” the captain ordered. The ship’s frame littered with vibrations and squeaks as the panels retracted, and the hum of the ion plasma turbines returned to reverberate the hull. The mimic generators turned off, and the asteroid turned back into the sinister silhouette of a Raider frigate.

The Albagnon lifted itself from the rings, heading away from the gas giant. “We have energy buildup, preparing to jump now!”

The gate appeared, and the Albagnon slipped through it.

***

Inside the Turan Planetoid

Kuo’ran carefully applied the healing ointment on the bruises in Zha’s face. “You really should not get physical with the Harrk’hah pilots. I don’t know about Raider customs, but do they actually teach you to brawl with boys? As if winning and getting all the prizes aren’t enough.”

“Those pilots deserved it,” Zha answered. “They are mean and they nearly got me killed. They fly with complete abandon over the safety of other people in the race. I don’t think we are as restrained as you Kushans. We cannot afford to look weak. Every aggressive response must be challenged with an equally aggressive response.” She tended another hurt in her face.

“But look what it did to you,” Kuo’ran began applying makeup to cover Zha’s bruises. “If Zhoan wasn’t there to even things up and smash the pilots himself, those pilots would have beaten you to a helpless pulp. What is worst is that you’re about to have your Oath taking ceremony. You are going to have all those bruises right in the public.”

Kuo’ran removed the towel covering Zha’s body. “You’re black and blue all over!” Kuo’ran took the Segura ceremonial robes and prepared to place them over Zha.

“I appreciate helping me with this,” Zha said, and she moved clumsily with the aches and pains in her body. “I don’t think I could do this myself. How do you know so much in dealing with such clumsy robes like this?”

“Not with the ceremonial robes of a Turanic Lord Princess, no,” Kuo’ran replied. “But as a member of a Kiithsa, the Sjet’sa, the primary ruling family of a Kiith, we must host the traditional ceremonies of our Kiithid. We have our own bulky and clumsy costumes. I’m not surprised, even across the galaxy, if you seen one costume, you have seen them all. These are all bulk and show. Give me your arm here…your other arm…okay, this will go to the head…”

‘Now you’re beginning to look like a real princess,” Kuo’ran giggled as she turned Zha around, examining the robes.

There was knocking on the door and Seejuk called out from behind it. “The ceremony is about to begin, and Zhoan is calling you.”

“All right, I’ll be finished soon,” Zha shouted back, as Kuo’ran fixed her hair, and then laid the massive headpiece.

“It looks like it’s going to fall over,” Kuo’ran said, adjusting the headpiece.

Outside, Zhoan guided Seejuk and Giirsa to a table reserved for the House of Khor. “Every House has tables like these to seat their representatives. This is going to be our table. I am supposed to seat over there with my House of Du’ran, but I requested an excuse so I can seat here instead. “

“We appreciate that,” Giirsa said. Shortly after, Kuo’ran joined them, telling them, Zha’s preparations were finished.

“You’re not just going to see Zha do the oath, but you will see the nobility of every House, and in particular, that of the Flo’karr, which we will soon arrange to meet,” Zhoan said.

“I have almost forgotten why I am here,” Giirsa said. “With all these festivities going on…”

There was a rapid beating of heavy drums that called the Assembly into silence and attention. An old man in brilliantly garbed costume stepped upon the center stage, followed by a woman in equally brilliant robes.

“The Sha and Lord of the Flo’karr, with his daughter, the Segura and Princess of the Flo’karr. They will lead the ceremony, and they will tell our history in song,” said Zhoan.

The Flo’karr nobles began an arcane dance and song. The movements were slow and deliberate, the drums pounding up and down with them. Flutes and harps joined with the melody in a bizarre opera. For Seejuk, it resembled the ceremonial operas of the Soban, Manaani, and the Somtaaw.

Zhoan began explaining the ceremony. “They said that the Life came forth from a single egg, and like spores from a flower, the Life spread and prospered in the primordial paradise.”

“The Gods saw the Life in the Primordial, and saw it was beautiful. They blessed the Life with their power and their seed, and the Life spread throughout the stars.”

“A great nation was formed under the eyes of the Gods, and the Life was proud. For the Life had many children. They were one at peace with the Gods and the Heavens.”

“But some of the Children had become too proud. Too proud of their magnificence, of their power. They raised their arms against their fellow brothers and sisters, and subjugated them. Brother and sister became slaves. The Nation blessed under light became an Empire cursed under darkness.”

“Before the Taiidans named us, as that of Turan, before we are known as the Raiders, the people of the Rock Belts, the people without a home, we are a people of peace. We are who that was called the People who Drifted, the People who Sang, the People of the Winds. Our ancient name is lost, but the meaning is not.”

“The proud Children who had turned into the Nemesis gathered the People of the Winds throughout the Empire, and brought them under the sword. Many died, never to sing again. Under the heel of tyranny, our peoples labored. Our children suffered, and where there was once song in their mouths, there was only the sound of weeping.”

“The Nemesis grew in power and pride, till the Gods can no longer ignore the suffering they wrought. Then came the great War of the Heavens, a war so terrible that almost all life was destroyed. The stars perished in fire, and worlds were awashed in blood. The dark angels of the Nemesis were cast out into the Abyss, but the Gods paid for their victory in the loss of their grace. It was the Age of the Twilight. It was the Age that brought an end to the powers at large. It was the Age of our birth.”

“It was during the war of the Heavens, that all who have been subjugated and crushed under the Master’s heel would rise to fight for the freedom that was so terribly taken from them. It was the First Lord, Baruk, who would lead us, and united us under a single oath. The leaders of the tribes of the subjugated swore unity under Baruk, and it is this oath that we commemorate.”

Zhoan stopped explaining when the lyrics from the Flo’karr came all too clear.

“Our freedom won, but the price is war, for we are no longer children of peace. The sword we carry is the vigilance to protect our freedom. And it has been that way for the ages, and it will be so till time ends.”

“Today we remember the leaders who swore the oath. Their children are with us, for each House remembers the tribe that fought, each Lord of the House, a child of the Oath Taker. Let us hear them take the Oath. Let them relive our moment of glory and birth. Let us hear them sing the song of our Freedom…”

The Parade of Lords began. Each Sha or Segura of a House came wearing a magnificent robed costume that glittered with jewelry and embroidered with the skins, scales and feathers of exotic creatures from strange planets. Each Sha or Segura, Lord or Princess of the House, was a descendant of a great rebel leader, the Oath Takers, each playing a part in the liberation of a slave race that marked the beginnings of the Raiders. It began with the Sha of the Flo’karr.

“I am the child of Kona Flo’karr, who remembered the Time of Struggle and placed it in song. For the Unity I pledge. For our Freedom I will fight. Under the Heel and the Sword, we will always be one…”

Each Oath was a moderately lengthy song. Each long enough to make a hearer bored, but not long enough to put them to sleep. For Seejuk, that was the trouble. It was magnificent yes, and it was a great honor to watch. But it was also dreadfully monotonous, with the low tone singing and the constant beating of the drums as one can expect from a tribal ritual.

The Sha of the Harrk’hah was next, followed by the Sha of the For’lym. Then came the Segura of Du’ran, then the Sha of Res’coom, the Segura of Soo’naan, the Segura of Hu’ran, the Sha of Si’rak, Segura of Le’gaia… At some point Seejuk stopped counting, as there can be anywhere from thirty to fifty Inner Houses.

Then came the Segura of Khor. Her childish youth stood out from the respectful elderliness of the batch. Her father, if he were alive, would probably fit in better, but since he was dead, the young descendant of Khor must take his place. Zha moved in a pace that was too hurried with the rest of the parade, and if she was not too careful, she may trip on her robes. Terrible anxiety gripped Seejuk if Zha would make a major embarrassment of the entire affair. But amazingly she held on with some grace, and took center stage of the podium. Seejuk breathed a sigh of relief.

It was Zha’s turn to sing. “I am the child of Mazath Khor, who led the Starfighters against the dark angels. For the Unity I pledge, for our Freedom I will fight. Under the Heel and the Sword, we will always be one…” She went on and on with her song, the note of her voice young and high compared to the elders that came before her. Despite the song’s monotony, Seejuk smiled as Zha beamed from the stage. She was very proud of this moment, and he knew she would be thinking of her father.

Zha’s song ended and she faded backstage as more Sha’s and Seguras take the stage for their oath. After each oath taking, Seejuk noticed that each Sha or Segura would join their representatives in their reserved tables.

There was a tapping of feet, and Zha was lifting her skirts as she tried to join the table without disturbing the other guests. She was still in her ceremonial robes, but not without the headpiece, which she had left in her dressing room.

“I did it! I did it! I finally made the Oath!” Zha clapped her hands.

“That was most lovely, Princess Zha,” Kuo’ran said. “One day, I invite you to come to watch a Sjet ceremony in return.”

“I would like that too,” Zha said.

“I would have to say, congratulations again, Miss Zha,” Giirsa said. “It is a great occasion and honor to watch this event. I will write an article about this when I get back, detailing such a historical moment as one of the first three Kushans to ever see this Oath taking.”

The last of the Lords finally ended his song, and the Sha of the Flo’karr returned to the center stage. As Zhoan explained, he would go on telling what happened during the War of the Heavens.

“…and the Nemesis was banished into the Abyss, never to return…” sang the Lord of the Flo’karr.

Suddenly there was an interruption, and an old senile man ran to the stage.

“No! No! No!” Salim cried. “This is not true. The Nemesis will return. They are not destroyed. We are in peril…”

A handsome girl ran to the stage to restrain the old man. “Please, father!” cried Zhura. “Do not make an embarrassment of yourself. Come down now.”

“Ladies and gentlemen,” the Sha of Flo’karr, a man named Mushak, tried to appease the commotion and embarrassment the senile old scholar made. “Salim was once the best scholar of all the Flo’karr, but now he’s quite old. Too old to differentiate reality and fantasy. Forgive a once great scholar of the Flo’karr, now old and senile.”

“I am not Senile!” Salim shouted back, refusing Zhura’s hands to lead him back to the audience. “Stay away from me! You people have not heeded my warnings, so I come here in front of you, in the only place that that can still take your attention.”

He pointed an accusing finger to everyone in the audience and particularly to the Lords who had already sat down in their tables. “You…you all of you have made a mockery of the Oath. :Like you, the Lords of For’lym and Harkk’hah. You sing the Oath, but behind our backs, you flaunt the Treaty of Houses by keeping Taiidani Imperialists as vassals, boasting both your fleets with carriers, heavy cruisers and destroyers that would not have otherwise permitted by the Treaty!”

The Shas of For’lym and Harrk’hah stood up, indignant. “How dare this old man lie against the honor of the For’lym and the Harrk’hah?”

“Honor? Honor?” Salim answered back. “The Sha of For’lym talk about honor? The Flo’karr’s Seeker ships have spied against everyone of you, and we know the disposition of all your fleets. Why, we all have them recorded! You and all your Imperialist vassals!”

“Now you are talking too much!” shouted Mushak, deeply red faced by the revelation. “As the Flo’karr, we deserve to know what is happening with all the Houses, especially when breaking the Treaty rules. That is our mission.”

“To spy on your fellow people?” asked Mahar, Sha of the For’lym. “That is one interesting mission! And we are not breaking the Treaty! If the Treaty has a loophole and we somehow exploited it, that is not my problem!”

As people argued, Zhoan turned to his Kushan guests, seeming embarassed. “Well my friends, I assure you these things don’t usually happen in every oath taking. Well, once in a while.”

“This kind of spoils the event,” Zha said.

“Who is that old man?” asked Giirsa.

“His name is Salim, once the most famous and now the oldest scribe of the Flo’karr,” Zhoan explained. “He may be the person you seek for your intergalactic archeological studies.”

“Then why doesn’t people respect his opinion?” Kuo’ran asked.

“He has been pushing around a lot of crazy theories lately, like a prophet prophesizing doom. I don’t know if he still keeps a level head, and if that is the case, maybe it is his daughter, Zhura, that you must speak,” Zhoan answered. They turned their attention back to the arguing scene.

“My father may be old and weak, but he knows what he is saying,” cried Zhura. “We may have circumstantial evidence that the Nemesis still exists. We have scans of strange ships encountered in Sector 34B that indicate that a civilization may exist in the Abyss.”

“Circumstantial evidence?” Mushak questioned. “That is not enough for us to work on. It was you Salim who told us that the prophecies of the End had been fulfilled with the coming of the Exiles, the fall of the Empire and the coming of the Beast. Is this not the prophecy?”

“For the Promised Ones, once exiled
return to their Mother’s world,
the Great Star will fall.
the Stars will weep,
the winds will carry their sad song.
For the time of Tribulation have come
for those who wander,
the Feared Enemy, the Nemesis
will tame the Beast
and hold the key to the Deliverer.”

“Now you take your interpretation of the prophecies back? After everyone has accepted your word as canon?”

Grim faced, Salim answered. “Based on previous data, that our prophcies was fulfilled would have been the logical conclusion. But something new was introduced. We failed to anticipate who the Promised Ones are. When the Protectors of Kadesh journed to Hiigara, it turned the prophecy back to its true beginning. Isn’t the ones who proved victorious over the Kadeshi among us? The one from the House of Khor?”

“I am she,” Zha stood up.

“Do you know that you have inadvertently helped part in a train of events?” Salim said.

“No I don’t know and I do not understand.”

“Then you shall understand my child, for when the great ship the Kharnak fell through the Hiigaran atmosphere, it fulfilled another prophecy, the fall of the Great Star,” Salim said.

“Preposterous,” Mushak said. “The prophecies are so vague they can be interpreted to mean anything!”

Suddenly Flo’karr officers came and their uniformed presence disrupted the session.

“Is this something so important that the Oathtaking must be interrupted—-again?” ask Mushak.

“Indeed it is, sir, Your Highness,” said the captain. “I am Ajaar, captain of the Seeker class deep space research vessel, Albagnon. We have news that all the Lords of the Council must hear.”

“We have detected a massive energy burst signature in the Mohilim sector, similar to a small nova,” said Ajaar.

“Is this the news? An insignificant nova?” Mushak asked. “The Mohilim sector is outer boundary, near the Abyss. Who requested that you scan the area?”

“It is at the request of the scribe Zhura,” Ajaar said.

Mushak turned to Zhura. “If your action was illegal, I would have reprimanded you. But you are still requested to make a justification why a Seeker class vessel must be deployed near the Mohilim sector.”

Zhura stood defiantly. “Sector 34B is near the Mohilim sector. Mohilim is the closest near-Abyss region that has the largest concentration of stars and asteroid belts. While we have not detected a planet in that area, its resource concentration is high enough to support an interstellar civilization.”

“So what interstellar civilization are you looking for? No, let me guess, you are looking for the Nemesis, which had already been justly banished since the beginnings of our history!” Mushak said.

“Let me interrupt,” Ajaar said. “There is another thing we must be concerned about. Nemesis or no Nemesis, we encountered an armed fleet. This one is from the Galactic Council. Our data modules recorded their jump gate entry in and out of the system. We can only hypothesize that the Council is reacting to the disturbance in Mohilim. It is an armed fleet consisting of Bentusi, Tiamat, Sakmat and Naga ships.”

“See! See!” Salim jumped excitedly. “Only in the real presence of the Nemesis will the Council of the Unbound react with force!”

“Boy these people know a lot,” Giirsa observed. “I would expect they know more about the Unbound than we do. Who is this Nemesis?” He turned to Zhoan. “It is imperative that we must meet these people as soon as possible.”

“More circumstantial evidence,” said Mushak. “Who knows, maybe the Council only needed to gather more data on such an astronomical event?”

“With armed ships?” Salim asked. “Who can threaten the Unbound in a manner they would send an armed fleet? It can only be the Nemesis or a Beast!”

Suddenly Giirsa stood up. “Gentlemen, ladies…my name is Giirsa of the Kiith Kaalel. I am a Hiigaran on the invitation of the Segura Zha of Khor and the captain Zhoan of the Du’ran….” There was much mumbling among the audience that sounded like “a Kushan…a Kushan in the oathtaking? Why is he here?” But Giirsa ignored the mumbles to deliver his speech.

“This is addressed to Salim and Zhura of the great House of Flo’karr. You have an issue that has my interest and curiosity. It is obvious that there is resistance among the Council of Lords with your theory. As a fellow scientist and archeologist, I must say, that while your theory may have its merits, this is not the proper occasion to ram it down your leaders’ throats. As leaders, the noble Sha and Seguras of the Houses, they have a position of responsibility that requires that the actions and decisions they make must be supported with enough justification. Their argument is reasonable. I suggest this, that I and our party can meet you outside of the Oathtaking to discuss this matters privately and let the ceremonies continue for the good of the people.”

“Wow, you would make one hell of a politician,” Zhoan said.

Kuo’ran stood up, refusing to let Giirsa take the center stage. “I am Kuo’ran Sjet, of the Sjet Kiith-sa of Hiigara and Kharak. It is my relative who was bound and piloted the Mothership of whom you called the Exiles.” There was a lot of mumbling and surprised reaction in the audience and it pleased Kuo’ran for delivering the expected result. “I concur with my colleague Giirsa here. We need to talk, Mister Salim and Miss Zhura, when the ceremonies are over.”

“Well well,” Mushak said. “We have celebrities from Hiigara. You should have introduced them early to us, Segura of Khor and Captain Zhoan. We welcome our guests from Hiigara and we hope that this spectacle just witnessed does not cast our people in a bad cultural light. As Flo’karr, we are learning more about Hiigara and Kharak, and someday we welcome an exchange in information.”

‘I apologize in behalf of my party here for introducing ourselves earlier, Your Highness Sha of the Flo’karr,” said Giirsa. “We came looking for just the thing you asked, an exchange in culture and information, as well as with lucrative trade and business contracts, our Kiithid and the whole of Hiigara might be interested to conduct with the various Houses of the Raiders, all for the mutual prosperity of both our peoples.”

The audience clapped at Giirsa’s remarks. “Prosperity”, “business” and “contracts” were the clever key words Giirsa played to pull the strings in an audience look for opportunity and money. He was such a hit among the Raider nobility, and Giirsa congratulated himself.

“Wow, Giirsa, for a young person like you, you are such a smooth political reptile,” Seejuk observed.

“I know, I know,” Giirsa whispered back.

Salim looked at Giirsa. “Then we meet outside of the ceremony.” Salim turned to Mushak. “I shall leave you and your upper classes to your ceremonies. But I find it with great and detestable irony that it turns out that far away Hiigarans would be interested in what I have to say about the future of our race instead of my brethren, the scribes of Flo’karr, and those who will be directly impacted by the Prophecies. My people.”

With that, the scruffy old man left, with Zhura bowing and apologizing, then leading him away holding his arm.

Chapter 5 | Landing Page | Chapter 7

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