The Kadeshi Crusade – Chapter 3 – The Pirate

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The Kadeshi Crusade

A Homeworld Fanfiction

by Crobato

Originally posted May 15, 2001

Chapter 3 – The Pirate

The Bandit rolled as it turned to avoid an asteroid. Then it rejoined its comrades in a delta formation. It was the end of their patrol, and they headed back to their home carrier, an imposing and threatening design, known as a Lord class ship.

Zha Khor had always wanted to be an engineer, ever since she discovered her hobby. That is, to hod rod and customize fighters for racing. She was lying down all greased up in the floor, with wrenches around her. A Taiidani Raptor scout, known to the Hiigarans as by their coded name Fiikhan, used to be her favorite, but now, she had a new beau. It was a Taiidani Fury class interceptor, also known as Triikors to the Hiigarans, or to at least her Hiigaran business manager by the name of Seejuk Liirhra. The Triikor, painted with flames and lightning bolts, was a true beauty in the eyes, but it wasn’t the same like her old Raptor scount. Even when she got other Raptors—and the license to manufacture them, along with Furies—it still wasn’t the same. Maybe it was the motivation behind the giving of the old Raptor that made that ship so special to her.

*Sigh*. She let herself burp as she had been stuffing herself with all the cheap pop drinks she stocked from the last port visit.

Her shirt and shorts are all covered with greasy fluids from opening up the engine bay of a Kadeshi Swarmer they had salvaged. She had seen these fighters before in the archives her Hiigaran partner brought, but it was strange to salvage them in deep space, not in the area of the Great Nebula. There was some of the goo right in her hair too.

That Hiigaran, Seejuk, was the turning point of her life. She was the Segura of a Turanic Raider House called Khor, the equivalent of what people might say as a princess. Except now, she was the princess of nothing but a carrier without a home. Her home, her Outpost was destroyed during the war against the Beast, taking her father, the Raider chieftain, along.

One day, a Lord class Raider carrier appeared in the sensor screens of a jointly allied Taiidani Republican and Hiigaran base. Republican and Hiigaran squadrons went to intercept the carrier, ready for a desperate fight against expected waves of Bandits. Instead they found a badly damaged ship, limping on its last legs, filled with wounded, sick and starving refugees. Salvage corvettes quickly towed the carrier back to the base, where food and medical attention were quickly dispatched to the refugees.

That was where she met him. She was a sick child, and he was an engineer sent to examine the ship. He found her half starved to death, and found out later who she really was and who the carrier really belonged to.

That was a long story, and Seejuk Liirhra from then on, found an affinity and responsibility to the child he rescued, and ultimately to the ship he repaired.

Seejuk Liirhra was one hell of an engineer. She heard that he was from a Kushan clan called LiirHra, the clan which not only designed and built the Mothership but also played a lead role in the development and construction of the Kushan vessels that defeated the Taiidani empire.

Seejuk isn’t the most handsome of men, but to her, his mind is a god. He knew how to pick them apart, knew every intimate detail in their strengths and weaknesses, and felt their construction like as if they were music With his talent, he turned this ship, a badly damaged Lord class carrier on the verge of the scrapyard, into possibly the best run sample of its class. He was probably the first Kushan to ever lay their eyes on Turanic stealth technology and electronic countermeasures, things that were built into the Lord class carrier and Thief corvettes. But those things didn’t impress him. After examination, Seejuk announced the Turanic technology, “primitive”. He then went on to add a few Kushan modifications, which gave the Mule the ability to hide deeper and longer than other Lord class carriers.

Seejuk never passed the Turanic technology to his Kushan counterparts, on the condition that Zha herself would not pass the Kushan modifications to her Turanic friends. Their strange partnership is one that has no loyalty to either Kushan or Turanic. It’s all about looking for number one—themselves. As much as Zha Khor was the victim of the Beast, Seejuk Liirhra was the victim of Kithiid society. He became quickly frustrated with the political struggles and maneuvering. What was supposed to be a clean start for Kushan civilization had turned to the same old thing that prevailed for centuries back on his old Kharak planet. It’s back to the same old Kharakian tribes on a new planet.

One day he said to himself, he had it, and searched for his own personal beginning. He was not alone. Smaller Kiithids like the Somtaaw, faced with the disappointment of their “Homeworld”, had to search again for another economic future in space.

He found it in by starting a salvage operation business with the most unlikely of partners, the Raider princess girl he helped rescued. It was odd that former enemies, a Raider and a Hiigaran, could find some affinity, but on closer look, it made great sense. He was a competent engineer, well versed in salvage and archeology. She had a ship big enough to serve as a base for deep space operations, big enough to hold squadrons of strike craft to serve as a defense against her fellow Raiders and various marauders salvage, big enough to hold salvage as well as labs and engineering departments necessary to analyze, study and disassemble them. Her Raider connections enabled the ship to pass through Raider territory unmolested, while his Republican and Hiigaran connections could do the same as the ship passes through Republican space. For both sides, the Mule was considered a friendly neutral, selling salvage to and buying surplus from both sides. The odd name was chosen to suggest a friendly hard working ship, instead of the exotic and pirate sounding Arak-Na which was the carrier’s original name.

And they both needed the money for one thing.

Every time they salvaged a wreck, she wanted to be there to see Seejuk and his team take them apart, hear their conversations and explanations, even to participate on some of the ship disassembly. Seejuk in turn, has learned to live with her persistent pestering presence, which can be quite interfering with their work.

Zha had been on overtime, dissecting the Swarmer. Earlier Seejuk was there too, examining the ships, then concluded they were simplistic. She heard him say he wanted something called a hyperspace inhibitor the Kadesh have. He’s been a collector of exotic technologies, and the original reason they were in this sector of space is to pick up a Beast mutatation nanotech virus. Now he wanted to be on the fringes of Kadesh space itself, hoping to observe the anti-hyperspace phenomena or capture the device that generates it. She was both deeply disturbed and vastly excited about the risks. Sometimes she questions Seejuk’s sanity but sometimes she praises his genius. She did not question him on this one. Big risk, big gain.

He may interested on the inhibitor, but she’s interested on the Swarmers themselves. What he sees as primitively simplistic, she sees as wonderfully elegant. The Kadesh, like the Turanics, knew their goals, and designed their ships with a common sense approach focused on that goal. Like the Bandit, the Swarmer knew its business well, putting, the most powerful engine and guns in the smallest, lightest package they can think of. The whole ship is designed like a sea born animal. It understood that a curved surface possess superior rigidity and strength, and its entire back was curved like a dome. Like an animal, a spinal structure reinforced it and extends to a tail projecting beyond the ship. This was something similar to the way the Bentusi approached the chassis of their praised Acolyte design.

In comparison, the Bandit was a simple craft, utilitarian in design, but it didn’t have the Swarmer’s sweeping vision of structure and integrity. She took down these notes, so maybe she can come up with her own design later. She has heard about the dreaded Somtaaw Hive ships and it was said they took their inspiration from the Kadesh Swarmers. But the Hivers were just fancy drone ships and the Swarmer is a true manned fighter.

The obvious weakness was the fuel capacity. That is why the original engine is being removed to make way for an Acolyte drive salvaged from battlespace wrecks. She’s making two prototypes, one on the Swarmer and the second, on the Advanced Swarmer chassis. The result can potentially be the most potent fighter in the galaxy. Suddenly she had a most horrible thought. What if the Kadeshi had acquired this same engine technology?

Why were these Swarmer hulls outside of the Great Nebula in the first place?

The ship’s speakers are calling her to the bridge. She ran, still in shirt and shorts stain by grease and goo, and the moment she entered, all eyes were on her, looking concerned.

The girl has a remarkable lack of etiquette and grace necessary for a ship’s captain, Seejuk thought. But she was the owner, and the little imp still has potential. For a while there, he saw his younger teenage self in her.

The Mule had hyperspaced and is on patrol just outside of the Great Nebula itself. They dared not to go in for fear of being trapped. The idea is however, to spring their own trap on a Kadeshi ship that would dare venture to go out.

“Hyperspace jumps tend to leave some residual radiation or energy signatures. It differs from ship to ship, and its even possible to estimate, based on the signature, the mass and the size of the ships that hyperspaced. There has been recent incidents in sectors here, here and here,” Seejuk said, pointing to a 3D starmap. “But an examination of Turanic ship activity indicates no Turanic ships in that area. After all we know their signatures quite well. The signatures do not match any known Kushan, Beast or Taiidan ship, but they are fairly close to Kushan. Not exact, but close. The last time we encountered such any similarity in radiation and power signatures is when the Mothership encountered the Kadeshi, we might have to assume such similarities would parallel with hyperspace signatures. If these signatures are Kadeshi, then their capital ships are fully capable of hyperspacing to anywhere outside of the Great Nebula, which is no brainer to copy if they had captured jump ships before.”

Zha was looking in the screen as Seejuk lectured. She suddenly seemed agitated. Seejuks have noted that Zha was an innately great space farer. She seemed genetically born to have an intuitive sense of the space around her. Seejuk could not explain this phenomenon, but he has seen Zha demonstrate it.

“What is it, Zha?”

Zha barked a command. “Put the ship on stealth mode. Kill all communications. If we have fighters on patrol now, recall them back now.”

“We were just about to send some fighters and corvettes on patrol,” Seejuk said. “Cancel the orders,” he told an officer. “Now tell me why?”

“Shhh…” Zha warned, blowing through her index finger. “Get me area scans now!!”

“Captain,” one of the officers warned. “We are detecting hyperspace signatures!”

“Maximum power to cloaking modules,” Zha ordered, “and minimal power to all ship systems. We will go into silent running.” With minimum power, the Mule’s energy signature is minimized, increasing cloaking efficiency, increased cloaking distances, and and increased power for the cloak generators. Lights dimmed and the engines reduced to a slow hum.

Zha looked to Seejuk. “Do you feel that?” Her eyes rolled around. Seejuk nodded his head in agreement, but he could not really feel what she is experiencing. The unusual situational awareness of Zha had an amazing discovery for him. It was as of she evolved a sixth sense that came from generations of being a space faring race.

Lighted symbols fill the sensor screens. “Magnify,” Zha ordered.

“Oh Gods of Kharak,” Seejuk said to himself. All the people in the bridge had their jaws agape as they stared in the screens.

The long thin shapes emerge from the stray clouds that make up the edges of the Great Nebula. Seejuk was only a young Sleeper in the Mothership during its historic journey. He had never the Needleships live before, only in the models and photos they displayed in the Mothership’s historic gallery. They are not exactly the same as he pictured either. Some of them are smaller, others quite larger, which leads him to theorize that the Needleships encountered by the Mothership is only one of many Needleship classes.

“Did you get it, did you get it all?” Seejuk excitedly shouted. He was relieved to know that one of the crew had already set the sensors to record the event in all radiation spectrums.

“What in the Prophet’s name are they?” Zha asked. “Kadeshi motherships,” Seejuk replied. “Not just one, but a whole damn fleet!”

“What are they doing?” Zha’s voice turned into a high pitch excitement. “Tell the ship to go into red alert, but maintain stealth profile!”

The Needleships of all sizes where joined by formations of Swarmers, and then various frigates. “Look at that,” Seejuk pointed. “I’ve seen them before. These are Fuel Pods, a kind of Support Frigate, and this, this is what they say you should look out for, the Multibeam Frigates. But I have never seen these types before,” Seejuk pointed to some of the Kadeshi ships.

“These Pods are approaching the dust clouds, and I think they’re resourcers of some kind. You better keep the Mule away from the asteroid belts and the dusk clouds, Zha,” Seejuk said. Zha nodded. “We will temporarily refer to them as Resourcer Pods. These pods here, and here, on the other hand, have an enlarged nose section. On closer examination, here and here…” Seejuk zoomed the visual into the nose of the pods,” you can see it has twin cannons whereas the standard Fuel Pod only has one. We can assume these pods have a more confrontational intention.”

Zha was listening to Seejuk’s lecture, but she kept one concerned eye on the reserve energy levels powering the modified Taiidan and Turanic cloak generators that were attached to the Mule with power tether cables. The tether cables supply power to the cloaks, one of the simple improvisations done to extend the ship’s cloaking capabilities. She kept the other eye on the sensors screen, where even more lights have popped up.

“Now what in the names of Kharak’s gods are these?” Seejuk exclaimed. “Magnify images”.

The immense ships were like two saucer shaped structures joined in the middle, with a massive hole on the top pole and another hole in the bottom. Numerous ships come in and out of the holes, as well as rows of openings in the side.

“Now this is something new,” Seejuk said, in a voice both of excitement and concern. “Look at the way they dwarf the Needleships. I would say about two or three times larger than the Mothership, with each ship possibly holding as much as one million souls each, estimated… “

“…and it looks like there are 12 of them…”

Seejuk looked into Zha’s eyes, seeing that she could not grasp fully the importance of this occasion. “We thought we’re going to ambush a Kadesh raiding party intended going beyond the Nebula. This is no raiding party. No raiding fleet would bring ships like that. I would say we have a full blown invasion in our hands, and we are right smack in the middle.”

Seejuk’s sense of Kushan patriotism has begun to conflict his need for self preservation, profits and disillusionment at the Kiiths. “We have to warn our peoples.”

“Don’t you think I would like to warn my people too?” Zha said. “But the moment we open channels, we’re going to blow our cover. We’re no use to anyone if we’re dead, not the least to ourselves.”

Seejuk had to agree she was right. “The best we can do now is to gather as much information of this Kadesh armada and then send the data to our respective peoples when we’re clear of them.” He switched his eyes to the screen, magnifying each ship.

“Looking at the energy signatures and shells of these Swarmers, I would say there are two or three new types we have not encountered before, since the time the Mothership entered the Great Nebula. This Swarmer here suggests that it uses a single large energy or projectile cannon, and this one may even have an ion beam. Simply fascinating. Oh and I got some real bad news for our side. Look at the energy trails of these Swarmers here, I would say that’s quite similar to a Bentusi Acolyte engine.”

Zha felt a rush of vindication. “I was right. Just in the hanger I was experimenting putting an Acolyte power drive in two Swarmers. Do you think they got the drives from the Bentusi?”

“The Bentusi would never sell it to them. They either captured a Bentusi or a Somtaaw fighter and copied it from their engines,” Seejuk replied. “If the Kadeshi has this powerplant in their Swarmers, along with these new types we are just discovering, I say all hell is going to break loose in the Galaxy. You did study the Homeworld Wars, did you, Zha?”

“Who in the Galaxy didn’t?” Zha replied. “Even in the Turan regions, it was a bestseller, and some smugglers commanded high prices for it. Many people thought it was worth a bag of laughs…”

“Time to brush the dust off from it now,” Seejuk said. “Other than Swarm inspiration for the Somtaaw Hivers, no one took any serious military analysis of the Kadesh. Some people thought that when the three Needleships are destroyed, so was the entire race. No one anticipated fighting the Kadesh again, and everyone viewed the Kadesh ships to be seriously tactically flawed. But if the Swarmers are able to get a new advanced high efficiency drive, those fighters would have serious range to back their firepower, which matches that of a Kushan Coffin class Heavy Corvette. Their speed surpasses our fastest scouts and their armor is as thick as a Defender. They do not have any turreted corvette designs, but their sheer firepower and maneuverability makes up for it.”

“The last time, we were able to beat the Swarmers by targeting the Fuel Pods. If they have extended range, that tactic isn’t going to work anymore. Damn, we also don’t have Defenders and Multi Gun Corvettes in this ship.”

“Not exactly,” Zha refuted. “We got Brigand missile corvettes here. They are the main firepower of our strike force. Not enough to handle that armada though. If we can get to a base, we can pick up some Taiidani Defenders and MGCs. I know we can pick up a few ships, then copy the rest. Got enough Taiidan machine tools here to build a few more ships, but we will need more pilots.”

“You see those Fuel Pods there?” Seejuk said. ” If you read the books, you would think they were easy kills. That single cannon packs more damage than what an Assault Frigate can dish out. Other than the Needleship, which combines a capital destroyer with the combined abilities of a carrier, the thing you should watch out for are these ships. Each is a Frigate with four ion beams, and they kick ass more than an Ion Array Frigate could.”

“More than an Ion Array?” Zha questioned.

“Yes, more than an ion array frigate. A few of these multi beam frigates nearly fried the Mothership.”

“Now the centerpiece,” Seejuk pointed to a zoomed image of a Needleship. “I am speculating that in the center cone of the ship lies a hyperspace inhibitor. Once those things go online, you can’t hyperspace out of trouble, nor can you hyperspace reinforcements in. This alone can decide the battle for the Kadesh.”

“We need to get some help here,” Seejuk said, in a massive understatement. “But where?” He looked into Zha’s eyes.

“I say we go to the nearest Turanic Outpost and call for help there,” Zha said.

“This armada will kick your Raider butt across the entire length of the galaxy! We got to call the Kushan Daiamid on this, or perhaps even the Galactic Council.”

“This area is close to many secret Turanic Outposts, and I say, we’ll go there first—-” suddenly Zha grimaced in pain.

“What happened?” Seejuk turned his eyes to Zha, who has begun squirming uncomfortably, holding her head in agony. She seemed deeply troubled, and the sight of her troubled him too.

Zha walked up to the windows, staring at the armada, sweating badly, her brow folded in pain. “There is something else out there. Not something. Someone. Someone. I need to find this. I am going outside.”

“No you won’t,” Seejuk protested.

“Don’t worry, I got something planned, they can never catch me. They never expected this,” Zha assured still breathing heavily and painfully. “Something, someone is out there. I feel drawn to it. It is something I must do, I must find out. Please, just support me on this.”

Seejuk nodded. Wisdom says never bang your head against the stubborn. Zha’s uncanny space senses are almost never wrong, but its not quite an exact science either. Nonetheless, if she feels something, you never discount her senses.

Moments later, she was back in the hanger. The salvaged Swarmer loomed above her in chains. This one is not yet finished she thought. An Acolyte engine rests in jacks.

But this one is, she thought. It was her first modification, an Advanced Swarmer salvaged before she came to the Great Nebula. The fitting of an Acolyte engine was surprisingly easy into the bay of the Advanced Swarmer, enough to spring in her mind a suggestion that the Bentusi themselves may have something to do with the design of the Swarmer in some strange way.

She talked to a microphone, her link to the bridge. “I want you to drop me off silently and maintain stealth mode in all costs. If I don’t get back, I guess you all have to do without me, but I will be back don’t worry.” She slipped into the tight cockpit of the swarmer, placed the helmet on. The cockpit lowered and sealed her, and the floor shuddered, as the hydraulic supports moved the craft to the launching rails in the docking bay. The bay depressurized, the gate opened, and she was thrown back at the tiny seat rest, as the rails hurtled the Swarmer forward into the deep black.

In split seconds, she was viewing the underbelly of her Lord class carrier, and then the Mule disappeared as the Swarmer propelled beyond the cloaking envelope.

A flick on the switch and the Acolyte engine fired. The acceleration was nearly neck breaking, but she quickly tamed the beast by backing off the throttle. Whoever flew this must be small but must have one strong grip, she thought. She pulled the joystick in both her hands in all her strength as severe gyroscopic forces competed to snatch the fighter and bring it into a spin. The Advanced Swarmer turned course, a thin blue trail pointing towards somewhere in the center of the Armada, and Zha wondered, what, or who, would be there to meet her.

Chapter 2 | Landing Page | Chapter 4

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