The Kadeshi Crusade
A Homeworld Fanfiction
Originally posted May 15, 2001
Chapter 1 – The Priestess
Once again, since the days of the plague known as the Beast, the stars were aflame in battle. “They are on the retreat, they are on the retreat!”
Caught in a crisscross of ion beams, what was once a Beast Ion Array frigate was now an exploding ball of gas with plasma balls flying out in all directions. “YES!!!…” shouted the pilot, looping the Beam Acolyte into a victory roll before joining his wing in formation. Below him, a wing of Avengers streaked past a wall of Hammer corvettes and Blade Mark 6 interceptors in a race to finish off the survivors.
Adm. Njad Nabaal of the Kushan carrier Kuura’sa could not be more pleased. Years since the defeat of the Great Beast, pockets of its offspring remain, the virus mutating into various forms. A combined Taiidan Republic and Kiith Naabal has spent two years tracking down Beast Virus Generation 3 Variant 7. The G3V7 has been among the most violent mutations, and the plague has destroyed at least one colony and two carrier groups. Soon the story of this unholy Beast offspring would come to an end. With it, he would gain a feather in his cap. By the holy god Sajuuk, he will be vindicated; the head of the Beast will be his trophy to show to the great Council of the Daiamid.
A Beast Skaal Tel Destroyer broke up in pieces, sliced by Dervishes and Firelances. To see the Firelance ion beam frigates do their damage, ….yes… it brought back the most precious memories.
He started as his career as a crewman in a Firelance back in the Mothership’s journey to Hiigara, and in the end, he became a captain of a Firelance himself in the final battle over Hiigara against the Taiidan forces of Emperor Riesstiu the Fourth. To be the captain or even the crew of a Firelance was a great honor, and is considered the elite of the elite in the Kushan fleet. It was in the last Homeworld battle where he distinguished himself, with his badly damaged frigate going toe to toe with a Skaal Fa missile destroyer. The destruction of the Beast Skaal Tel reminded him of that battle in a sweep of nostalgia. For a brief moment, he envied those captains in the Firelances, still young and tasting the joy of the kill. As for the Firelances, they will never replace those old birds, he thought. After the first Beast was killed by the Kiith Somtaaw, the other Kiith all went to license and bought the Somtaaw ships, ignoring the old Guard that helped brought to them to Hiigara in the first place. For him, the original ships from the Journey will have a special place in his heart, and even in obsolesence, the old ships remain wildly popular among their crews.
He waved his hand, and the bridge relayed orders to the rest of the fleet. The frigates have fallen behind the protection of the destroyers as they advanced to finish off the rest of the Beast fleet. His elite squad of Beam Acolytes streaked ahead, strafing a Beast carrier whose infection beams could not track fighters this fast.
The Beam Acolytes were reversed engineered from the original Super Acolytes lent by the Unbound to defeat the Beast. A resourceful Somtaaw engineer took photographs and recorded details by hand before the Bentusi wiped the Super Acolyte data from their memories and computer banks. While insufficient to fully copy the Super Acolyte, there was enough to create a new formidable variant, an Acolyte equipped with the mini ion beam cannon. For Njad, it was true vindication to see the Beam Acolytes finally punish the new Beast child.
Yes, the glory will be his and to the Kiith Naabal. Since the Somtaaw has slain the Beast, the prestige of the Naabal has declined in the light of the glory of the Beastslayers. The first war with the Beast has taken a massive toll in the ranks of the Naabal, Kushan’s premier warrior kiith, who took the brunt of the early, disastrous battles against the Beast. Revenge was denied to the Naabal, as the final victory won by the ingenuity of a minor kiith called Somtaaw. Since then, the warriors of Naabal seek to recover the glory once theirs, and so they sought to destroy the remnants of the Beast, with the Imperialists and the Raiders for good measure. The destruction of this Beast mutant will be the greatest victory for the Naabal since the extermination campaign began.
He bent his head low. His sight was not worthy of the Priestess in her privacy, and to raise his head would welcome instant execution. But her feminine scent tingles his nose, those oils she apply all over her body. He can hear her bath, the trickle of water drops, and finally the sound of her bare feet. Soon she stood over him naked, but he dared not raised his head. His heart raced and the stories tell of the beauty of the Priestess, who must have been as beautiful as the Great Mother herself. But he would not dare feast his unworthy eyes upon her.
The man’s faith is strong, she thought. For all that matters she could be fully clothed in front of him. “What news have you brought for me?”
“Our forces are in position, Your Holiness.”
“Very good, my child M’jor. You have served our Great Mother N’ua very well. You are worthy in her sight. If you win this battle, I shall put a good word for you to the Mother of the Gardens to see fit that she will bequeath you with more of her blessings.” She is perhaps less than half of his age but she treats him like a child, an action that made him uneasy. But he must remember, G’yela was the one chosen by the Great Mother herself, to lead the Devoted and the Faithful of Kadesh into a new age of Enlightenment and Salvation.
She had this sweet smell that grew stronger as she bent over him. She ran her fingers over his hair. “You are a strong man, M’jor. I like that. I like only having the best…”
His eyebrows strained. “Will your Holiness care to bless us with her appearance in the bridge?”
“I have the full utmost confidence in you, my child M’jor. You can proceed without me. When I am through with my bath, I shall see you in the bridge. Do not fail me, M’jor, go…go…”
Then she opened a bottle of sacred oils. “Do you smell it, M’jor? It is the smell of the purest essence, the blood of our Mother. It is this purity that we seek to achieve and preserve. Remember this, M’jor. Everything we must do is the act of cleansing. The Galaxy is full of unworthy heathen. It is our ultimate duty to the Great Mother that they will be cleansed and shown the Light. They will be returned to the Bosom of the Great Mother.”
“When I finish my bath, I shall join you in the bridge.” With that she bent and kissed him in the forehead.
The second Beast carrier has broken up. Now to finish the mothership. Njad gripped his fist. Now, now now!
“We are detecting new energy signatures” said an officer in the bridge.
“Extreme interference. Signatures indicate multiple ships and fighters bearing down on the Beast mothership.”
What’s this? Ships from a rival kiith coming down to steal his victory? He cannot have this.
“All ships full speed and get to the Beast ship first.”
“…but the Infection Beam, sir?…”
“If you hit it fast, hard, in numbers, the Beast won’t have a change to get a shot.”
“Sending all orders now!!!”
Njad’s eyes are fixed on the screen.
“Fighters are now on the Beast mothership itself.”
“Hail the commander of that battle group! I want to talk to him,” Njad shouted. As the communications go online, Njad grit his teeth. “Identify yourself, your rank and your fleet designation.”
“While we appreciate your assistance as allies, by this battle must be won by and only by the Naabal. We ask that you desist your attack and let us take care of this.”
Multiple lights headed to the Beast ship. Another set of lights came out from the Beast ship to challenge the first set of lights. The battle has been joined. Beast strike craft fought frantically to defend their mothership against wave and wave of the attackers.
“Cloak Generator signatures!!!”
Frigates materialized out of thin space near the Beast ship. Ion beams lanced from them into the mothership.
“The Beam Acolytes will soon be reaching the mothership position. We shall soon see who it is that dare intervene in our operation.”
Njad’s heart beat faster.
“We now have visual acquisition.”
The frigates were tearing the helpless mothership apart in their beams while Beast fighters pop under the fighter onslaught. As soon as it started, it was all over. The Beast ended its existance in a blinding plasma explosion.
“What are those?” remarked the voice of a Super Acolyte pilot.
Something caught Njad’s eye. Kushan? Taiidan? No. But there is something familiar about them, a sight from the past. This is impossible. A chilling realization gripped him.
“ALL FIGHTERS ENGAGE THEM!!!” N’jad ordered frantically. “Fleet, all in defensive formation. Prepare to hyperspace as soon as possible. NOW!”
“But our fighters…” cried the bridge officer.
“They’re good as dead, and we will join them if we don’t get out soon,” shouted Njad. In the screens, the Acolytes and the Blade fighters now engage fighters once thought as friends, but now enemies.
“Multiple signatures around us!!!” shouted the bridge officer. The new enemy fleet has materialized our of a massive cloaking field in all their directions.
No, not this far from the Gardens. It cannot be, Njad thought.
“By the mercy of Sajuuk, HYPERSPACE NOW!!!” Njad slammed his fist on the console.
But the engines could not react. “What’s happening,” cried one of the officers. “Hyperspace inhibitors! But that’s impossible” said the tactical officer.
In the screen, a Beam Acolyte stumbled rolling out of control, as an Advanced Swarmer right behind it raked its four cannons into its soft belly. A scream ended the final second of one of Naabal’s elite pilots. An X formation of Blade Mark 6 Interceptors rushed headfirst into an unruly mob of Swarmers, only to have the middle of their formation blown away, as the Swarmers raced right through the middle.
An ACV ripped its four energy cannons against a Swarmer head on, popping it. But the ACV wasn’t fast enough to avoid its wingman, and the second Swarmer smashed into the hapless ACV. Two Hives unleased their Swarm drones, cutting a wing of Swarmers into pieces. But another wing of Swarmers hit one Hive from behind in point blank range, destroying it in one strafing pass, and before the second Hive can react, the second pass of the same Swarmer wing strafed the Hiver from front to end. The Hiver ended its life in a fireball.
“Locate the source of the inhibitors, we need to destroy those if we have to get out from this!” Njad ordered. A flash in the screen indicated another Firelance is lost. A Dervish cut a Swarmer down, then another, then another again, but then got the receiving end of four ion beams coming out from nowhere. As the Dervish vaporized, the Kadeshi Multibeam Frigate barrel rolled and headed to its next prey, a Kudaark. The Assault Frigate too, died in a ball of white fire but not before it punched a few holes into its victor. Explosions rocked the carrier Kuura’sa, as beam cut through it. “We have located the source of the inhibitor. It is right in front of us,” said one of the officers.
Njad watched in horror as a massive long needlelike shape loomed from the twilight darkness, headed towards his ship. He had seen these ships before and knew what they were capable of. By the Mercy of the God Sajuuk…
From the Needleship, beams lanced to the carrier, and the pride of the Nabaal fleet was sliced from beginning to end. That was the last thing Njad saw in his life, as a Swarmer smashed into the bridge of the carrier, mercifully ending his fate before the entire ship ended in a ball of furious fire.
Cloaked in the finest silks and smelling in the finest ointments, G’yela entered the bridge as she had promised to M’jor.
“What is the status, my child M’jor?”
“Our Martyr class swarmers have proven once more their faith and devotion to the Great Mother and to her Chosen Voice, G’yela. True to their name, many committed martyrdom by smashing themselves against the heathen. May the light of the Great Mother comfort them in their journey in the Afterlife of the Eternal Gardens. “
“The Great Mother will reward our martyrs with salvation. Proceed and tell me more, my child M’jor.”
“Our Holiness, our Disciple class Advanced Swarmers have also demonstrated their superiority in skill, bravery and faith over the heathen’s fighters. As we had observed before, the Unclean had substantially upgraded their capability since the coming of the demonic Beast.”
“The Devoted class multibeam frigates have once again proven their superiority over the heathen’s frigate formations. The Unclean will be cleansed. We are In the final phase of the battle, our Apostle class needleships have engaged the the Unclean capital ships and have destroyed many of them. “
“Good, good… The Great Mother will be pleased with the sacrifice of the blood of her enemies. How much is our own casualties?”
“The casualties in our fighter arm are high. We did not expect this much resistance from the strike arm of the diseased mothership and from the fleet of the Unclean.”
“I shall pray for their souls of the martyred,” G’yela cried, raising her arms as the tears she has worked up, streamed down her cheeks. “The Great Mother is honored by their sacrifice. They will be in her bosom in the Afterlife. Their names and deeds will be written and remembered in the Holy Books.”
G’yela was in fact, still a young virgin who will never give physical birth due to her vows she pledged and her permanent infertility in a sacred ritual done in the Mother’s altar. Instead, all of Kadesh’s children will be her children. The sacrifice of a woman’s fertility was the greatest offering one can give to the Mother of the Gardens, N’ua.
The singing of a holy choir has begun to fill the communication channels of all Kadesh ships and fighters, inspiring them to fight further beyond their call of duty and life. It was the glorious song of eternal life in service of the Mother. The greater the gift of martyrdom and sacrifice, the more the soldier was assured a place in Her bosom.
“Holy, holy, Mother of Light…”
“Pray for us all, shine your blessings upon us…”
“Make us all worthy of your Name…”
“Give us the Courage to strike the blow…”
“Against the Heathen and the Unclean…”
“And the Faith to deliver us from their Evil…”
G’yela stood on the bridge of her Apostle class needleship. The window was wide open, and she could see the titanic battle against the forces of the Unclean. But the guard and holy warriors of the Great Mother will prevail. It was time to look beyond the battle, for the spoils of the enemy.
“Order all grappler corvettes to retrieve as many intact enemy ships as they can. Obtain as many intact ship weapons, fire control systems and engines as much as possible from destroyed and damaged ships as well,” G’yela ordered.
The insect like Missionary class salvage corvettes, also known as Grapplers, were the final act of the attack, rushing to pick off the prizes. These odd looking craft are based on the same chassis as the Devoted class Fuel Pod, but instead of a gun and fighter ship grapples, the Missionaries had large mechanical jaws designed to salvage large ships.
“In the meantime, I shall sing for my children’s souls..” G’yela said. The screens are still filled with the lights of a determined enermy holding to their last breath, but the Faithful in their swarmers were as equally determined to shut them down.
“And please, M’jor, no survivors,” she added. “For the sake of the Mother, our work must always be clean and thorough.”
G’yela later toured the hangers with M’jor and Engineering officer, T’saok. “What do you think, Your Holiness?” T’saok said proudly. “Our reports indicate we have captured several dozen of the enemy’s so called Acolyte, Avenger and Beam Acolyte fighters. We have also captured several frigates, Hammer heavy and Tempest multigun corvettes, as well as the enemy’s Blade, Thunderbolt, Shield, and Arrow fighters.”
“Your trivial inventory numbers do not concern me, my child T’saok. What matters is the technology you can salvage from all these. Our main concern is to improve the fuel endurance and the efficiency of the engines of our Martyr and Disciple class Swarmers. In addition, we need to improve the accuracy and range of their weapons. Our fighters have been used to fighting in the cover of the Gardens, but not in the vastness of space.”
“Just remember, T’saok, I plan the whole attack sorely for the purpose of gathering technology. The Bentusi will never deal with us, and we cannot deal with the Unclean. We will take what we need by force with the aid of the Mother’s blessing.”
T’saok continued. “There is nothing in most of these ships that we have surpassed. Our Disciple class Advanced Swarmer drives have long equaled the efficiency of these fighters’ drives, and our ion beams and projectile cannons are superior to the enemy in terms of damage. I know it is a sin to say this, but our fire control systems are inferior to the Unclean’s, and they can shoot with greater accuracy and range than our Martyrs and Disciples.
“It is not a sin to suggest what is wise, my child T’saok. It is the calling of the Great Mother through me that we must make use of the Unclean technology to improve the arms of the Faithful. It is after all, in the end, all for the Service of the Great Mother. What minor sins we do now, will ultimately be forgiven as the Great Mother rewards us for achieving her goals and bringing our Faith to the sinners and the heathen. Despite their unworthiness, the Unclean had shown the capability to improve their technology, no doubt aided by the Devil himself. “
“I have long observed and studied the capabilities of the Unclean and the Heathen,” G’yela said. “Their guns and ships have greater range than ours. We must improve our ships and weapons in order to bring the battle of Conversion to the heart of the enemy. The Devil’s tools will be used against him. “
“Now my disciples, our biggest prize may be the fighter drive of these so called Acolytes. They are claimed to be from Bentusi design and are far more efficient from than our Advanced Swarmer Drive of our Disciples. If adapted to our Martyrs and Disciples, we will be able to strike with greater reach. Our fighters can be in continuos battles without need to refuel with our Devoted class fuel pods. This will give our fighters the supreme advantage. This will also free our Pods for repair duties and firepower support.”
“I see, Your Holiness,” said T’saok. “I will work on adapting these fighter drives to our fighters.”
“If they are successful, my child T’saok, you must inform me at once. Then we will proceed to arm our Blessed pods with greater firepower.”
“Forgive me, your Holiness, but will the Orders oppose our modification?” M’jor asked. “To tamper upon the sacred designs of our ships with the technology of the Unclean?”
G’yela corrected. “Our Holy Orders are filled with old men and women who dared not dream any longer. In fact, they will oppose what we will do. But I am the Chosen Voice of the Great Mother. While the old ones hide behind the safety of their Dogmas, I go forward with the will and the courage to achieve for the Great Mother. We must be flexible, my children.
“There are much potential that we can gleam from the technology of the Unclean and the Heathen. We can design our own new ships and fighters that will make us superior over the old Orders. You, M’jor and T’saok, are both engineers. I will release you from the shackles of dogma, to give you the freehand to finally exercise your thoughts and creativity to create new fighter and ship designs. We will soon face an age of tribulations and we will need the best ships and fighters to carry us with our Faith.”
“My New Order for Kadesh is the one of hope and dreams. We will go beyond the Gardens. The drives are for the fighters of our own Order only, and later for the Orders who will ally with us. With these drives, the fighters of our Order will be superior over those Orders who oppose us. We hope not to fight our own brethren, but a show of force will convince people to our cause and our right to power.”
“Our civilization is stagnating inside the Gardens. Our people are as starved of hope as they are of food. If we are all to survive and find greatness once again, we have to leave the Gardens. It is with this promise that I shall lead you all.”
“My children, T’saok and M’jor, you will now be privy to the secrets long kept by the K’jath, the Holy Order of the Daughters of N’ua, the oldest and most sacred order of Kadesh. We are the keepers of the ship Khar’nak who came to the gardens millennia ago. From this ship comes the cornerstone of our faith and our war against those who has driven us to the Gardens.”
“But our true faith has been distorted through the ages. Inside the Ship lies the truth of our people. Inside lies a Guidestone, the star map that shows where once our ancestors lived. This is the Guidestone of the Everlasting Garden, the Guidestone for Hiigara.”
“This Hiigara lies in the center of the Galaxy. Our translation of the ancient texts inside the sacred ship tells us that Hiigara, and our ancestors, was once the heart of an empire that stretches across the galaxy, only to be subdued by the Unclean. The Heathen and the Unclean all drove our ancestors to exile, and our Ancestors came to the Gardens, where they long fought to preserve our Faith. But this translations and the Truth they teach has to be kept by the Orders for centuries. The Orders have deemed our people as unworthy of such knowledge, or are they ready to act on it. “
“But something has happened to change this. We can no longer wait for the time our people is ready for this Truth. We have to force that time. When the Unclean Exiles first came to the Gardens, this led to an astonishing discovery by our Order. The Unclean has ships that have a similar energy and technology signature to ours. They too have a Guidestone and are on the journey to the gardens of Hiigara. We have come to the realization we are not the only Exiles. Soon enough, the Kushan Unclean defeated the Taiidan Heathen who forced our ancestors to exile, and the Kushan Unclean have taken the Everlasting Garden of Hiigara to themselves.”
“We will not let this continue. We will bring our people to the greatest Garden of all as our destiny and prophecies foretold. We shall lead our people to Hiigara and claim our right of our forefathers. Our people will once again lead the Galaxy and the light of N’ua will shine across the galaxy end to end. If we do not journey, we face eternal stagnation, and with it our damnation. Our precious Garden will be our prison, our Hell. My path will lead to our salvation. Follow me. for it is prophesied in the Guidestone that a savior will lead us and I am that Prophecy.”
T’saok looked at her dumbfounded. This young frail girl in her silks and veils was utterly mad. But they were all utterly mad too, all the people of Kadeshi, hiding in perpetual fear in the eternal clouds of the Gardens. But in G’yela, the Priestess, it was her madness that discovered the truth. There is no other hope, except that a child will lead. Yes, T’saok will follow a child.
“To fulfill the Prophecy is travel across a Galaxy full of heathen, the Unclean, and the Unworthy,” G’yela said. “They will be well armed and they will have plenty of ships. Be aware of these my children, as you design the new ships for our brethren who will embark with us on our great journey, our Crusade back to the Homeworld of our Great Mother, N’ua.” The fleet has turned toward the Gardens. This time, it is to face another enemy, the ones among themselves.