The Kadeshi Crusade
A Homeworld Fanfiction
Originally posted May 15, 2001
Chapter 17 – The Purification
The Multibeam Frigate materialized from hyperspace. The Bentusi had told him earlier to go to the Karos Graveyards. It made sense for Seejuk. Connect the points of Kadeshi encounter in a star map and it seems headed for the Graveyards. But what would they be doing in the graveyards? Both the Taiidani and his own people refuse to send a fleet to engage the Kadeshi in the Graveyards. They fear the Junkyard salvagers. They fear the superstition and myths in the Graveyard. They fear its another its another trap.
The Kiith’sa had met and discussed that the best strategy now would be the one they have not played. Instead of being lured by the Kadeshi into a trap, it’s time to lure the Kadeshi into their trap. The bait was Hiigara itself. There was no way the Kadeshi could spring a trap in the very space around the Homeworld. The great Mothership lay in orbit. The Kuun-Laan was undergoing repairs and would be fully operational but minus its siege cannon. The only other siege cannon would be in the Faal-Corum, which had been recently installed. A combined Allied armada was amassing, ready for the final battle.
There were none of the feared Junkyard Salvagers. His scans show an extended gravwell field with a new signature that Seejuk could only guess was another heavily improvised gravwell generator. The field caught the Junkyard Salvagers, and the Kadeshi Grapplers had salvaged the Salvagers themselves. The Grapplers, based on the Pod capital ship chassis, were immune to the gravewell’s field. It was clever for the Kadeshi to do that, to ingeniously apply existing technologies into new creative ways.
The Beamer cruised right into the armada. Seejuk wondered. In every recorded encounter with the Kadeshi fleet, they had not detected the massive Arkships the Mule detected in the first encounter outside the Great Nebula. The Arkships were not here either. Was the Arkships just a momentary figment of their imagination? Impossible, they had recorded those ships with their instruments. Whatever the Kadeshi was going, the Arkships themselves were taking a separate route from their main military fleet. They deliberately avoided all military encounters, and were probably harvesting.
His scans have identified the flagship. Detecting it was easy. It’s sheer size separated it from the standard Needleship, and there was this odd structure in the stalk that used to be a Hiigaran transport ship. That transport ship itself was immense, as big as the largest carriers or dreadnaughts, that would suggest the sheer scale of the Kadeshi flagship itself.
What is this? Seejuk studied the scanners. There were four massive structures that appeared like derelicts. They must have been towed by the Grapplers, and a web of scaffolds surround them. The scans showed these derelicts must have been battleships, and the designs may have been early Hiigaran. Seejuk smiled. These ships would have been archeological treasures. The ships were being restored, right down to their weapons.
The Kadeshi must be insane. They were willing to send derelicts against the most modern capital ships of the combined Kushan-Taiidan might. They had brought to the war assault carriers, destroyers and heavy cruisers that all resembled ancient Hiigaran derelict design, all of them with mixed results. But what amazed him was that these were all signs that the Kadeshi had preserved considerable amount of ancient Hiigaran technology, all probably in the derelict Hiigaran carrier and transport ship in the Gardens. They had preserved more of that technology than the Kushans ever did. Seejuk wondered if all this meant that the Kadeshi had a greater claim to the soul of the ancient Hiigarans than the Kushans. Seejuk concluded even if they did, it would all be moot now, as they had turned into a race of psychotics, more deluded and bloodthirsty than the last Taiidani Emperor.
The Bentusi wanted him to come here, and he wanted to save his protege Zha dearly. But inside he had his own selfish reason to come here. Before him, in the midst of the Kadeshi fleet, lie the greatest archeological treasures of Hiigaran history. If he could stop the war, and save the Kadeshi from themselves, he could save these treasures.
The key is in the past, said the Bentusi.
Maybe the key to stopping this war lies in the past that needed to be revealed, thought Seejuk. This is the key to unifying the Kadeshi and the Kushan into a new Hiigaran state.
He had only one life to live. There was only one opportunity left. If the Kadeshi flagship was destroyed, the greatest archeological secrets of ancient Hiigara would be lost with it. In the long run, even the Kushans would suffer from that loss from all that knowledge contained in it. It may even contain the knowledge that leads to the very origins of the Hiigaran race. Knowing the past is the key to the future. The future of the Kushans may lie in the greatest irony of all, in the very ship that came to destroy them.
There was a fear in his heart. There was no turning back ever since he departed on this daring journey alone. He disobeyed orders. Not only was his career over his own people would brand him a traitor now. Small sacrifice to pay to find and save Zha, to stop the genocide between two Hiigaran brothers, to coming aboard the ancient Hiigaran transport that gave birth to the Kadeshi of the Gardens, the sister ship that gave birth to the Kushans of Kharak, and hope to see and discover the greatest secrets of Hiigaran history.
Small sacrifice indeed for the greatest opportunity. History will either revile him as the greatest traitor, or the greatest archeologist.
He turned on the comlink switch and began his broadcast. * * *
Zha never felt so powerless in her life. She could only stare from the bridge of Khar’nak, as the Kadeshi restored four ancient Hiigaran dreadnaughts. She had no power to affect any outcome in future battles. Worst, she is inside the Kadeshi flagship itself, the Khar’nak, in the wrong side of things.
G’yela stood by her. “We look to recover more artifacts and derelict that we can use to boost our ship numbers and technology. But the four warrior dreadnaughts are our main prize. In the course of our restoration, we are sending back the relics from those ships to the bowels of this ship. You will help me take a look at them and analyze them.”
“Will the four battleships be enough to take on the full pride of the Republican and Kushan fleets?” Zha asked a rhetorical question. G’yela looked down and did not answer.
There was interruption from an officer in the bridge. “We are receiving a signal from a Multibeam Frigate that just hyperspaced. It is one of our ships but there is only one person on board. He claims he is a Kushan envoy and requests a private audience with the leader of the fleet.”
“Scan the surrounding area,” Gyela ordered. “This can be a trick from the Unclean.”
“There is no other ships in the area. The Kushan is alone,” said the officer.
“This Unclean has much audacity and courage to venture into our fleet alone. What does he hope to accomplish?” G’yela said. “Order him to stand down. Send Swarmers to intercept and escort him to the flagship. Shoot to destroy if he tries to escape or demonstrate any hostile action.”
Zha wondered as to who the person would be. It’s about time, she thought, that the Kushans should come to their sense and attempt to settle with the Kadeshi. “Follow me to the dock,” G’yela said. “We will face this envoy from the Unclean and examine what deceit the Unclean plans for our demise.”
The Mule was a huge carrier by Kushan standards, but the walk from the bridge to the docking bays was much shorter than in this Khar’nak. Zha had seen this ship outside in previous battles and it was huge. But inside it seemed even bigger, grander.
On G’yela’s side, Zha watched the Multi Beamer docked. Armed guards surround it, and the hatch was opened. Suddenly her heart jumped with joy.
“It’s you! You old lizard, it’s you!” Zha jumped in joy and ran to Seejuk. There was a wide smile in Seejuk’s mouth and tears from his eyes as he hugged Zha. “At first I thought you were dead,” he said to Zha. “I thought you were dead. The Bentusi said you were alive, and wanted me to come here to save you, to save the Kadeshi from themselves. Sounds crazy huh, but there is no choice left. I need to talk to the top leader or the council of the Kadeshi themselves to stop this madness.”
“She is right here. She saved me from execution,” Zha said.
“She?” Seejuk asked. “The G’yela we heard from the Kadeshi transmissions?”
“Yes. I would like you to meet the Highest Priestess of Kadesh, the Mother Superior G’yela,” Zha said. She pointed to a young woman wearing glittering robes. Seejuk was struck with her appearance. This G’yela, this Priestess was only a young girl, still in her late teens and not much older than Zha herself. He had never seen Kadeshi alive before, only visualized that Kadeshi women would be like Kushan women. But this G’yela was strikingly beautiful by any standard. Long silvery hair framed a pale handsome graceful face that seemed serene, and she had a tall lithe figure with an equally graceful stance. She had a radiance around her, an aura or charisma whatever is it called. Men can be drawn to her, but it was not a sexual attraction, rather the way a cult leader draws people.
Seejuk found it hard to believe that this beautiful girl had become the greatest terror of the Galaxy. She was not the wrinkled, corrupt Taiidani tyrant of an Emperor; she was not the monster that was the Beast. But this fatal beauty had a power over people that was more dangerous than the last Emperor or the Beast.
The guards rushed to him, knocking Zha down, and forced Seejuk to kneel. “You Unclean Filth,” the leader of the Guards said. “You are not worthy to cast your eyes on our Holiness! How dare you that you come onboard the most sacred of ships! You will be sacrificed in the altar of the Great Mother, before your flesh and bones will be fed to the Recycler!”
Zha ran, then kneeled and kowtowed in front of G’yela, pleading for Seejuk’s life. “Please your Holiness, spare this Kushan. He is my closest friend, the second in command of my ship. Do not punish him for his loyalties….” For Seejuk the sight was sad for a princess with the stature of Zha to plead and beg for his very life.
“He has come for an audience with you. The Bentusi, the Unbound, sent him with a message for you. They too are members of the Council, Angels as you speak of, ” Zha said. “Besides, he is the shipmate I told you about. He is trained to study the ancient tongues and relics. His coming here is not by coincidence. I think his coming here is by fate. That cannot be ignored. His coming here is to help us.”
G’yela’s eyes perked. She was uninterested at first, but Zha had a point.
“There will be no execution,” G’yela ordered the guards. “Release him, but make sure he had no weapons.” The guards let Seejuk stood up, and checked his uniform for any deadly implements. There was none.
“Come here, minion of the Unclean,” G’yela ordered. “Introduce yourself.”
Seejuk brushed aside his uniform, then walked with dignity to G’yela and bowed before her.
“I am Commander Seejuk Liirhra of Hiigaran Fleet Command, and yes what she said is true. I work as second in command and adviser to the Princess Zha and her ship, the carrier Arak-Na, also known as the Mule. I am also a member of Hiigaran Fleet Intelligence, and my speciality is in engineering, archeology and ancient technologies. We are in the business of salvaging ships, including ancient artifacts. We have travelled to many areas of the Galaxy and discovered much.”
G’yela nodded. She seemed impressed with the man. “I could sense the truth in you,” she said. “You are sincere in what you said. I feel you have great, great knowledge within you. The gods have indeed sent you for a purpose. They have answered my prayers to help me in my work. Only those who have travelled much of the Outside can understand the secrets of the sacred relics of Kadesh, secrets that have eluded generations of the Orders. Come all, and you too, Kushan, follow me to the hull of the Sacred Ark. Please call my Handmaidens to prepare the necessary Purification ceremony.”
“Purification?” Seejuk wondered.
“Yes. We shall prepare the Unclean like you and Zha to be made worthy in the sight and the work of the Great Mother. This is the final step. For generations, the Protectors of the Gardens captured the Unclean from the Outside. Many were sacrificed and recycled, but those that were deemed worthy were made to join as one with the Kadeshi. To make them clean again, you must undergo the rite of Purification. Your doubts must be cleansed, your faith strengthened.”
“It won’t get me killed, won’t it?” Seejuk asked.
“No it won’t. Those who failed will become the insane,” G’yela answered.
“Now, that’s quite a relief,” Seejuk laughed. “Insanity or death.”
“Those who come out of it will be stronger in spirit and heart,” G’yela said.
Seejuk took a moment to absorb where he was. The excitement in the meeting had momentarily eclipsed the significance of the place he was now. He, Seejuk Liirhra, was now in the bowels of a Kadeshi Needleship. He looked around him trying to absorb all the impressive engineering details. The construction of the Needleship was so elegant and simple in its design. It is build around a central cylindrical tube that serves as both the housing for the ship’s engines and the generators for the hyperspace inhibitors.
As they walked, Seejuk asked. “Your Holiness, I have come to you humbly to see what we can do to stop this war. Regardless of what you think we are, we Kushans are your Hiigaran brothers and sisters. We share the same past and we can share the same future.”
“Don’t you think I know that?” G’yela said. “I already sensed that in you. But our destinies have already been written. Brother will fight brother, sister against sister. The wheel has turned and it cannot be stopped. But with your help we can save some things.”
As they walked, Seejuk could sense the awe within himself as he realized he had passed through the modern section of the Needleship and into the old section that was the ancient Hiigaran transport. Is this, could it be? Along with the musty smells of incense, the dry smell of poorly ventilated air, or rusting metal, and even decayed flesh, ah this is the most fragrant odor he ever smelled, the smell of the ancient history of Hiigara. He took one deep whiff.
“What are you doing,” Zha wondered.
“Nothing, nothing,” Seejuk uttered.
They entered what seemed to be its great hall. The giant image of the Great Mother, N’ua greeted him with its soulful penetrating eyes. Seejuk shivered at the stare of it.
The Handmaidens gave them some pale white robes. G’yela showed them the purpose the robes. “The robes represent the most simplest basic nature of all life. In the end, when stripped of our titles and ranks, the things our society has strapped into our beings, we return to the essence of things. In the end, we are all nothing. We are not commanders, we are not priestesses, we are not princesses. We are plain living beings among the billions in the cosmos. In the end, we are only left with our soul.”
Seejuk and Zha were allowed to change privately to the robes. When they came out, Seejuk uttered, “This is most interesting. I am excited to see what’s next.” His middle aged figure didn’t seem to go well with the robes, while the robes flowed with Zha’s small nubile figure.
“How do I look?” Zha asked.
“I guess much better than me, I suppose,” Seejuk replied.
The Handmaidens lit candles and burned incense. They presented G’yela with a sharp knife, a shiny metal cup, and three bottles filled with some liquid.
G’yela took the knife and raised it in the air in front of the image of the Mother, chanting an ancient hymn. She turned around to face Seejuk and Zha.
“She’s not going to stab me with that, I suppose,” Seejuk whispered.
“Just shut up,” Zha replied, much more serious and intent on the ceremony.
“Give me your left hands,” G’yela proclaimed. Zha and Seejuk raised their left hands. G’yela took Zha’s left hand first, and quickly made a cut across the palm using the knife. “Eeeow!” exclaimed Zha, before she tried to curb her expression quickly. G’yela then put Zha’s hand over the cup, and let blood flow into it. After it reached a certain amount, G’yela wrapped Zha’s hand to curtail the bleeding.
“Doesn’t seem bad,” Seejuk whispered. G’yela did likewise on Seejuk’s hand, mixing both their blood into the cup. He showed no pain.
G’yela raised the cup to the giant icon of the Mother. “Witness the blood of those are Unclean who are about to be purified so they may be worthy of Your Service, Great Mother.” She lowered the cup, and placed some liquid to mix with the blood. With a burning incense stick, she lit the contents of the cup, and a cool flame rose from it.
G’yela then took two bottles, and offered it to Zha and Seejuk. “You must drink this. As your blood is offered to the Mother, Her Blood is offered to you.”
Zha looked at the contents of the bottle and drank it quickly. It seemed sweet and refreshing. Seejuk was more cautious, smelling the liquid. He noted there was something hallucegenic about the drink, but—what the heck—bottoms up!
For a few seconds, nothing was happening. Then Zha’s eyelids began to quiver. She smiled as she fell limp into the floor. Seejuk could not seem to get a hold of himself. Seconds later, he became dizzy, his blood rushed to his brain, his vision blurred. He tried to say something before he passed out. ***
There was massive panic throughout the Outpost. Zha ran out to the corrigdors. She was wearing only her nightgown and clutching tightly her stuffed animal. The red alarms were sounding everywhere. Soldiers were running around.
“Daddy, Daddy,” she cried. “Where are you?” There was panic in her voice.
A tall and handsome man lifted her up and hugged her. He had a strong frame and body, and the touch of it gave Zha a sense of warmth and security. “There you are, my daughter,” her father said. “You should not be running away like that.”
He had his flight suit on. “What’s going on?” Zha asked.
“The base is under attack. We need to get you into safety!” Zerun urged. “I am going to put you in the Arak-Na, which will put you in a safe place.”
“But what about you, Daddy?” Zha asked. “What about you?”
“I will be alright, I promise. We have to fight this monster that has come to destroy us. I will lead our forces against the monster in the carrier Horak-Na. I will slay the monster for you, and everything will be alright. I promise. Be Daddy’s strong little girl,” Zerun said.
Zerun led Zha to the docking bay of the Outpost. He gave her a long kiss in the cheek, and Zha hugged him back, tears in her face. “You promise, Daddy, you come back for me.”
“I will,” he said.
He gave her a strong manly hug as he placed her in the shuttle. As the doors closed, he gave her his thumbs up and shouted, “We Raiders, we always kick ass!”
She gave her thumbs up and waved goodbye. She could hear the soldiers urging her father, and saw him for the last time running to the other shuttles, no doubt bringing him to the carrier Horak-Na to fight the evil monster.
As the shuttle doors opened in the Arak-Na, Zha quickly ran to the nearest window to watch the battle.
What she saw was the most horrible thing she ever saw in her life.
A huge dark ship, ugly and limbs so menacing with evil, was coming towards them. She heard cries around her. “The Beast Mothership! It is coming for us!” There were screams everywhere.
Big black and red ships were opening fire at the Outpost, and she watched fire raged in the place she called home. The Ion array frigates tried to frantically defend the Outpost, beams lancing like spears against the unstoppable enemy. Brigands launch massive volleys of missiles. Bandit interceptors tangled with the red fighters.
The Beast ship loomed over the flaming outpost, plasma cannons and ion beams lancing at its prey. Zha watched as her home exploded into a million balls of fire. Not even the explosion of the Outpost could not stop the massive Beast mothership, which had now turned for the Arak-Na.
The Arak-Na carried all the families of the Raider pilots that lived on the Outpost. Now, brother, son, sister, daughter, mother and father of these families, in the Bandit fighters, the Ion Array frigates, the Thief and Brigand corvettes will fight desperately for their families in the Arak-Na from the Beast.
The Arak-Na shuddered as plasma bombs and ion beams hit her. Zha joined the screams of many as the Monster ship approaches, firing at their ship. The infection beam smashed at the corner of the ship, and the captain of the Arak-Na ordered execution of the Naar Directive. Plasma was quickly vented to the infected areas, even if families were there.
The Raider frigates and fighters destroyed many of the smaller black and red ships. Every time a monster ship blew, Zha cheered. Zha saw the other carrier, the Horak-Na, her father’s ship. She waved at it, even though she knew her father would not see her doing that.
But as she watched her father’s ship, she knew what it was trying to do. It was putting itself between the attacking Beast ship. She watched in horror as the Beast ship fired its evil beam on an ion array frigate, and it turned black and red like the other evil ships.
Beams from the Horak-Na destroyed a Beast frigate, and it has trained its weapons against the big monster ship itself. But the monster ship loomed over her father’s ship. She saw the smaller Raider ships deliberately crash against the big evil ship but to no avail. Attacks from the other evil ships destroyed two Ion Array frigates right in her eyes.
She tried to cheer for her father to win the battle. Twin beams lanced out from the Horak-Na into the monster, and the beams were joined by those from other Ion Array frigates that have clustered around Horak-Na.
Then came the most terrible moment of her life. Evil beams from the Monster ship hit her father’s carrier,and the black and red covered it, as the ship lit like a torch, burning to stop the evil plague. During the battle, she could sense her father’s presence, like the way she could sense the stars and the cosmic winds, but now his presence was gone. The carrier disappeared in a blinding flash.
The stuffed animal she had been clutching tightly dropped to the floor. She dropped to her knees, tears flowing out of her eyes, her lips in bewildered silence, the stars collapsing around her, her entire world gone…
She opened her eyes, and G’yela was there. Her body and robes was wet in sweat. The Beast had gone long ago. Her father was gone long ago. But the pain still remained. Zha watched G’yela’s steely eyes. Then Zha curled her body up and cried uncontrollably in G’yela’s lap.