The Kadeshi Crusade – Chapter 5 – The Mule

Chapter 4 | Landing Page | Chapter 6

The Kadeshi Crusade

A Homeworld Fanfiction

by Crobato

Originally posted May 15, 2001

Chapter 5 – The Mule

The decks were littered with sparks as every able body tries to< repair the extensive damage on the carrier. Zha was happy she got Seejuk’s competent team of Kiith Liirhra engineers working on the Mule, even if they were Kushans. She paced all over the carrier’s decks, watching the progress of the repair. Having the Kushans were an advantage. The Turanics were never good engineers. They had mainly acquired and adapted someone else technology and braced them with their own common sense. They’re not the best when it comes to maintenance and repair either, and Raider ships were often dependent on hiring Taiidani engineers to work for them. The Imperialists were a boom for that.

In one of the decks, Seejuk Liirhra’s voice was hoarse from shouting and managing his team. When Kiith Liirhra declined in influence, many engineers were left idle and without work. That was about the time other Kiith wanted to pursue their own ship design projects and shipyards, all part of a political manipulative attempt to reduce their dependence over Liirhra. The fact that Liirhra wanted exorbitant licensing fees did not help very much. The smaller Kiith went buying to the Somtaaw or the Bentusi. Many in the Liirhra went to work for the other Kiiths, but Seejuk managed to pull a competent team that was interested with his deep space ventures.

What was remarkable to the sight of Zha was that Seejuk managed even to pull the Turanic and Taiidani engineers and workers in the Mule to work closely with their Kushan counterparts. Engineers, it seems, are their own breed, talk their own language, think together and stick together regardless of the race they came from. Seejuk went further by designing his own modifications to the Lord class carrier, like magnetic array panels to enhance the ion beam, and tethering Cloak Generators with cables to ensure a continous power supply. The arrays were salvaged from a Turanic Ion Array frigate. Seejuk even promised that one time, the Mule will be able to illegally manufacture Kushan Arrow scouts and Blade Mk II interceptors without proper license, and even the Somtaaw Acolytes, as soon as they can illegally obtain the machine tools. This, she got to see.

She was deeply covered in sweat, her face in grease, from the heat of the welding, from putting out random fires, from trying to frantically repair ships with hot engines. She slumped down the post and into the floor for a short rest. In the hanger, the captured Swarmers are being refitted and repainted with her clan’s markings. There was a lot of excitement when a Kadeshi Multbeam frigate was brought inside the hanger. Seejuk was all loud and talking on the very sight of the MBF’s quad ion helix cannons, which was possibly the most powerful ‘small’ weapons he has seen, even over the Somtaaw’s ion helixes. The Somtaaw never allowed the licensing of their ion helix to the other Kiith in order to protect their technological monopoly. But this, well, he’s not going to ask the Kadeshi for licensing permission either. He intends to study it closely and make his own copy.

The captured MBFs were repaired, refitted and given new crews. Their bland beige white exterior soon gave way to an outlandish Raider style paint job, blessed with the markings of her House. One MBF was too damaged for refitting, so Seejuk decided to put the MBF to scrap, and take out the engine, computers and ion beam helixes for spares. He mentioned about using the helixes in four makeshift turrets along the carrier as a defensive armament. He had noted that some of the Mule’s own guns were damaged beyond repair. He then gave orders to modify the MBF drive to provide power for these turrets alone. That would significantly raise the firepower capacity of the Mule the next time they would encounter a Needleship or some other bad guy. The expense would be the spare space taken up by the drive and they can’t fire the four beams if the main ion beam cannon is ready to fire with the array panels deployed.

There was no rest until the Mule can be repaired. The urgency was the need to warn Turan, Higaara and the Republic of the Kadeshi Crusade. Zha was greatly disappointed to hear that the communications equipment of the Mule was so damaged it needed to be replaced completely. A makeshift communications system taken from a salvage was installed, but this communication system was not capable of the power of the original carrier system, and simply does not have the range required to contact the nearest outpost. The makeshift system was only sufficient for contacting ships within the sector and for coordinating combat ships.

As the Mule finally became interstellar worthy again, a final act for the fallen must be done. For all the adventures of the Mule and the time they spent together, there has never been a toll in life like this. The bay was cleared of the unnecessary equipment, all the fighters and corvettes layed in neat rows all clean and solemn. The bodies of the dead and effigies of those who died but their bodies never recovered, were all laid in the deck, wrapped in the Turan ceremonial cloth and packaged in a clear capsule.

All crew of Turan blood wore their tribal costumes, some showing the colors of the original tribe of their ancestry, but most wearing the colors of the noble House of Khor. The Taiidanis among the crew marched in their military uniforms, while the Kushans wore the funeral dress known of the Kiith Liirhra and the Hraal. He, Seejuk, wore the only one who wore uniform of a chief engineer of the Kiith Liirhra. There were a solemn drumbeat and the playing of flutes. Men in Turan tribal costume marched singing and carrying a torch. At the end of their song, they stood in formation across the hallway for the most important person to enter. A person formally announced the entrance of the Segura of Khor. The title Segura when translated, meant “Glorious Princess of the Raiders.”

Zha entered wearing the thick glittering royal robes of a true Segura, her head covered with an extravagant head dress that appeared made from trophies of dead birds and predatory animals. No dominant royalty exists in the noble tribes of Turan, refered to as bandit kingdoms by the rest of the Galaxy. But the nobility’s that rule the tribes and clans was bound by blood. Among the nobility’s themselves, there was an inner nobility considered the most ancient and noble of the purest blood. Her father, the great Sultan, Zerun Khor, was also Sha or Great Prince. She, by blood, would be a Segura, a true Princess of the Raiders. But with the destruction of the Khor outpost, the House of Khor became disenfranchised in shame. Not until they have regained honor would they be allowed a new outpost. Zha herself never wanted to use this title, her social rank. For all and to everyone, that rank and title has disappeared with the lost of her outpost. The only thing that matters now was her ship and crew, and of course, to do whatever is needed to gain a decent profit. But for this occasion, it is only proper that the song, the voice and the tears of a Segura, of the highest and most noble of the Raiders, must be spoken and shed to give the highest honor for those who selflessly sacrificed their lives.

Seejuk had never seen her so beautiful and solemn, and he winked his eyes to make sure he’s seeing the right person, that raggy and punkish girl who can be a constant thorn to his side, now a beautiful princess worthy of the legends. Zha was a girl entering the blossom of her womanhood, young and still innocent, but her eyes were already tempered with the fire of battle and the coldness of death. Her face bared no emotion as she lit the candles near the corpses and effigies, but her frame seemed to struggle for balance with the weight of her costume and the tendency of her huge head dress to fall off her head. After the candles were lit, the drums began beating and the flutes sung a new sad lyric. She quietly stood up to a makeshift podium, and begun to sing a haunting melody, the ceremonial Turanic Song of the Dead, for the dead heroes and victims of the last battle as they journey to the afterworld.

For a Kushan to ever witness the Turanic Ritual of Sending the Dead is a great honor, much more even a greater honor to witness a true Princess of Turan sing the Song of Death. But it wasn’t his first time to see this. Zha’s song reminded him of the first time he saw her.

It was during the height of the Beast War. A Turanic Lord class carrier hyperspaced in front of a joint allied Kushan-Republican base. There was much alarm and consternation. Interceptor squadrons were dispatched and ion beam frigates were ready in formation.

But there was no attacking waves of Bandits. No waves of Assassin or Dagger ion array frigates.

Instead, they found a badly damaged ship, scarcely holding together, limping on its last legs of fuel. The interceptors heard a cry of help from the comlinks in the form of a child’s voice. A few brave interceptors volunteered to enter the ship’s docking bay. What they found was a shock. It was a ship full of starving, sick and wounded refugees, women and children with gaunt eyes holding on to the last ray of hope.

Salvage corvettes were quickly dispatched to pull the ship closer to the base, while Repair corvettes tried to repair the hull of the ship. Other corvettes came to the docking bay carrying food rations and personnel to tend to the sick and wounded.

The sight of a “captured” Lord class carrier parked in the base had Kushan engineers like him jumped up and down in joy. This was a golden opportunity to ever examine a Lord ship close hand. The ship itself was desperately in need of repairs. To provide the help was the sensible thing to do and gave a chance to study the carrier directly.

Inside however, his joy of examining the ship was quickly dampened at the sight of the refugees inside the ship, the sick, wounded and starving, and many of them, women and children. The Taiidan and Hiigaran medical personnel were swamped and tired, but they kept on. Damage all over the ship and the accounts of the refugee survivors made it clear that it was all caused by the Beast. In a way, they were very lucky to survive a Beast attack.

It was in the docking bay of the carrier one night, while working on the electrical systems in the deck that he heard a strange song. It was an eerie haunting song. He traced the sound and found what looked like a young girl in the dim light singing in her knees in prayer. He walked towards her, with the intention to ask her to leave the deck to allow him to continue the repairs uninterrupted. What he saw was a gaunt child in dirty rags, lighting a candle on the floor near a makeshift doll. She was singing this deeply beautiful hymn.

He asked her what was she doing.

“My father,” she said, “was a Great Prince of the Raiders. But he died, and no one will sing for him on his journey to the heaven. He thought me to sing this song while he was alive, and told me to sing for him when he died. I am sending him to heaven now with a great funeral that fits a Prince.”

She looked like she was weak and hasn’t eaten in ages. Tears flowed from her eyes as she gathers what little strength she had for her song. In his greasy engineering coveralls, Seejuk sat down and lit a candle to join her small makeshift funeral ceremony for her father.

“My father will be happy,” she said, looking at him with her gaunt puppy eyes, then continued her song. “I know he will,” he replied, two lonely figures kneeling in a cold deck in candlelight, “he will get his princely funeral.” He uttered a Hraal prayer asking for the Gods of Kharak to help a Prince, even one of the Raiders, on to his journey in the Afterlife.

She has grown since then, and now her song was for the fallen of her ship. A soft tear appeared in the corner of Seejuk’s eye and he quickly wiped it out. The bodies were moved and lined up next to a launch tube. As she continued her song, an officer announced the names of those who sacrificed, and their bodies were ejected to space in order return them to the Universe they came from.

As soon as the last body was sent, a silence fell upon the gathering for their final prayers. When that is over, the Segura looked over the crowd, who expected that she would say something solemn. Instead she barked “I want everyone to their stations now! We are going to hyperspace and not a second to lose!” She frantically waved her arms, “GO! GO! GO!”

Everyone was still in their ceremonial uniforms, as the bridge officers quickly ran diagnostics before powering up the engines. Zha didn’t had time either to get rid of her Segura costume, placed the ungainly head dress on the control panel, and slinked into the captain’s chair, robes and all. Seejuk was right behind her, headed to the sensors panel.

“You know, you should have given us time to change to something more comfortable.” To which she replied, never taking her eyes off her panel, “Worry about that later. Power up the engines! We must go now!”

***

The Bandits were in X formation as they headed to the area where the supposed interference was detected. Another boring patrol, the pilot thought. He wished to be part of those raiding missions he so often heard about being conducted once in a while against the Hiigarans and the Republic. But they let the inexperienced cut their teeth on boring patrols. Then they assign them on missions that have some true action.

“So what do you expect to find here?” the pilot calling to the female officer in the control bridge of the Outpost. She was a cute one, and he thought of asking her out when he comes back. Maybe for a joyride in the tight cockpit of this Bandit, he smiled. “Do you think—” he was asking when she suddenly cut him off. “Just keep your mind on the sensors. I swear I thought I detected a hyperspace jump signature here,” she said.

“Okay okay…”

A long needlelike shape broke out of the dust clouds. “Huh?” the pilot said. His surprise turned into a smile of opportunity. Some merchant vessel accidentally came upon into this area. If he and his squadron were able to disable the vessel for capture, he would be on a fast track to an assignment with a real carrier on a raiding mission. He turned the comm link on again to contact the Outpost for reinforcements in the form of Thief corvettes to capture the merchant vessel.

No answer.

He flicked the switches. No answer again. Only static.

There is no time now. They have to strike or the vessel will get away. “Red alert, prepare to engage vessel—-“

Before there was one needle vessel, now there were four of them. Smaller beige colored vessels in military formation were right next to them. “Oh my lord, Frigates! What is this! Who are these people?” They appeared neither Kushan nor Republic. A V shaped formation of fighters were zooming to his way.

“Evasive maneuvers, emergency boost! Return to the base! We must warn them!” The Bandits u-turned in maximum boost. His back pushed to the chair by G-forces, the Bandits strained to get away. But as he watched his sensor screens, the enemy fighters were still closing in on them at a rapid rate of speed. There is only one thing left to do. He called on the least experienced pilot to continue running to the base to warn the rest of the forces.

The rest must turn engage to cover the fleeing pilot. The formation of Bandits broke out into a flower, as they u-turned back against the Swarmers. A Swarmer opened fire and a Bandit exploded. Another Bandit collided with a Swarmer, ending both their fates. The pilot rolled as fire from another Swarmer shot underneath his craft. He looped, the Bandit struggling dangerously with extreme forces as his target reticle falls on the Swarmer. The Swarmer fired its boosters but before it got away, mass drivers from the Bandit tore into its armor, and the Swarmer’s flight ended in an explosion.

As the battle turned into a furball, a lone Bandit headed back to the base on maximum boost. G’yela watched the event from the flagship, Khar’nak. She waved her hand, signaling open engagement. A formation of Devoted multibeam frigates appeared to spearhead the attack on the Turanic Outpost. Multiple wings of Disciple and Martyr swarmers have engaged their engines, and ionic trails began to mark the black space, heading for the Outpost. G’yela looked relaxed despite this being the first time she has engaged a Turanic Outpost.

“Sensors have detected enemy battlegroup, identified Lord class carrier with Ion Array Frigates for escort, all headed our way.”

G’yela smirked. “Order all the Devoted to engage the Ion Array Frigates. Fire up the Khar’nak’s ion beam cannons. That carrier is mine and the Great Mother’s glory.”

One of the Bandit pilots have gone out of the communications jamming range. His distress call released an angry swarm of Bandits and Brigand missile corvettes from the outpost and the carrier. But the sight of the angry swarm only brought smiles to the faces of the Swarmer pilots looking to prove their mettle against the Unclean. The first formation of Martyrs charged right into the middle of the Bandits, and explosions occured as Martyrs collide with the Bandits. Wave after wave of Martyrs and Disciples swarmed at the Turanic strike force. As forces joined, a massive furball took shape. No one could make heads or tails of the great dogfight.

“The Outpost is calling help for Heathen reinforcements!” the ensign warned.

“Let them do it,” G’yela replied. “I’ll give you the signal when to apply the Hyperspace Inhibitors.”

As the four Needleships began to take position on four corners in the sector around the Outpost, the Multibeam frigates had commence firing on the Ion Array Frigates, which retaliated back. In the first exchange, two Ion Array frigs were destroyed, but the leading Devoted multibeam frigate was crippled from the initial blows. Another Devoted went down. But as the battle went on, the more powerful and maneuverable Devoted multibeamers slaughtered the Assassin and Dagger Ion Array frigates. A wave of the Blessed class Assault Pods—obsolete Fuel Pods with dual medium cannons, beared down on the Turanic task force to support the MBFs. The Turanic carrier beam killed a Pod, but in turn, was subjected by cannon fire from the Pods. Fighters launched from the Turanic carrier but were immediately attacked by swarmers.

It would be a good time to test the new Pod types, G’yela thought. In order to sustain a long range comprehensive campaign, G’yela, her top officers and engineers made a number of variations from the venerable Blessed class Pod chassis that was the basis of the Fuel Pod. The Pod itself was partly made obsolete by the more efficient fighter drives, but was a sturdy hull that was quick to manufacture. The Assault Pod added additional cannons in the spare space, turning the Pod into a formidable gunship that will supplement the MBFs in point to point battles. The Healer class Supply Pod was based on technology from a captured Supply Frigate, and tended to the damage frigates and fighters.

Thief Corvettes made frantic attempts to steal or immobilize some MBFs, but were cut down by escorting Disciple Advanced Swarmers. Brigands smashed volley after volley of missiles in to the MBFs and Pods, taking a number down that led M’jor to show some concern. But as the Disciples turned to face the Brigands, the Brigands were slaughtered. Crusader class Assault Swarmers has entered the fray in an attack wave, peppering Ion Array Frigates and the Turanic carrier. These are Swarmers with a single large cannon of heavy punch derived from the Fuel Pod armament; in contrast to the dual cannon Martyr class Swarmers and quad cannon Disciple class Advanced Swarmers.

A Taiidani Imperialist fleet has hyperspaced between G’yela’s flagship and the Turanic base. G’yela smiled—the trap is set. She gave her orders, and the four Needleships activated their hyperspace inhibitors. Escorting the Needleships were a formation of probes, not just sensor probes, but each containing a bomb that sends out a shock wave. “Bomb them,” G’yela ordered. “Think of it as Gifts from the Mother,” G’yela laughed.

Formations of Probe Bombs headed to the Imperialist fleet, who had no idea what they were. For the Turanic carrier and task force, it was too late; their agony ended in a series of brilliant explosions. The Imperialist carrier has begun to deploy its fighters and corvettes, while assault and ion frigates formed a protective formation around the carrier.

They would have felt their futility by now, G’yela thought. A sense of panic gripped the Imperialist forces when they failed to hyperspace. When Taiidan fighters and corvettes tried to shoot down the probes, the bombs exploded, their shock waves destroying the small craft. More probes headed to the carrier and the frigates, and their automated turrets turned to shoot them. The resulting chain of explosions rocked the Imperialist capital ships, as a massive wave of Swarmers bore down on their position.

G’yela stood from her throne and walked to the big screen that showed the battle. She stood aloof with a sense of dignity. The sense of victory and the blood scent of the kill can be intoxicating but remained hidden in her icy demeanor. Like the unclean and unworthy Taiidani, the sinful Raiders have aided in the persecution of the Mother and the sacred ancestors of the Kadeshi race. Like the Taiidani, they are sinners that must be wiped out like the lowest vermin, for they are, like the Taiidani, the Unclean. They will pay for their sins against the Mother, even if the destiny of retribution will last for tens of millennia. Like packs of predatory animals, the Pods and Beam Frigates rushed to devour the survivors of the Imperialist fleet.

“Cleanse this sector of space from the Unclean, ” G’yela ordered, her voice heard in all the comm links of her fleet. “This glorious victory is an offering for the Mother, and this sector of space will be consecrated for the Mother. Our great heavenly Mother is pleased with the spilling of the blood of the Unclean. She will remember the great sacrifice, faith, and courage of our holy warriors, and the souls of those who died in Her Cause will forever have a place in Her Great Gardens.”

The inhabitants—families—aboard the Turanic Outpost watched in sheer horror as their kin and loved ones died in the Turanic defenders were destroyed. Equally horrific was the total annihilation of the Imperialist fleet sent to help them right in front of their eyes. There was panic as the order for evacuation was given, and people flooded to the transport ships. The remaining defenders—the Ion Array Frigates, Brigands, Thieves, Bandits—were to be tasked in the desperate defense of the task force. The Sultan of the Merak Outpost had died with the carrier. The last remaining commander of the Outpost had broadcasted his surrender to the attackers. He watched in horror as the unknown enemy continued its flight towards the Outpost, his request for surrender unheeded. He knew from their transmissions they were fanatic enough to kill every last woman and child. His purpose and those of the remaining defenders are finally clear; they would defend to their last ounce of breath.

A final act must be made. All the videos, data and events of the battle were broadcasted to all Outposts within range as a final warning. He hoped they would learn from the data to deal with this new enemy that dared held its sword against the blood of Turan. When the final transport and lifeboat has left the Outpost, he will begin the final countdown sequence for the self destruction of the Outpost. He hoped shock waves from the blast would damage the enemy and provide cover to the refugees. As for him, he will stay with the Outpost to the very end. He uttered a silent prayer to the gods that guide the souls of Raiders in the afterlife.

There were news that the transports were not enough to fill the refugees. He ordered the refugees to fill even the Taiidani Resource Collectors and Controllers they have in the base, and fill every deck and space of the last few Turanic Ion Array frigates still in the docking bay. As the ships cleared, there were those who refused to go, and expressed their desire to die in the only home they knew. Outside, the Taiidan gravwells have stopped the enemy fighters in their tracks, but the enemy frigates pressed on, and begun to bombard the Outpost.

G’yela watched the screen. She would not miss this act of Cleansing. Suddenly there was a brilliant light. Formations of Martyrs, Disciples, Blesseds and Devoteds perished with the explosion as the heathen Outpost completed its final act of sacrifice. Her own casualties did not matter to G’yela. They performed well, and have earned their place in the Eternal Gardens of N’ua. The cleansing is completed.

***

The Mule jumped outside where the Merak Outpost was supposed to be. But there was only silence in the darkness.

For Zha, all she can see was the face of utter horror. There was wreckage everywhere and the sense of death around her. Seejuk watched her expression in concern. They were too late.

There was a moment of mournful silence that was broken when Zha gave her next command. “Scan the area for survivors. Go into red alert in case there are still Kadeshi roaming around.”

He laid his hand on her shoulder. “I suggest we need to look among the wreckage if we can find enough material to make a powerful communications system that can let us contact a base.”

Her voice was weak, and her eyes were wet. “Do that,” she said softly. “Do whatever it takes.” Seejuk waved his hand to the ensign, who ordered the Thief Corvettes to launch from the bay and search for wreckage.

She spoke to Seejuk softly. “I remembered how it was, when our Outpost was destroyed by the Beast. Wreckage like this everywhere.”

Outside, the captured Multibeam Frigates in Turanic colors began to patrol the area looking for survivors. The Mule has begun to deploy every fighter and corvette it had on board, from the Bandits to the Brigands, the Furies and the Raptors, to the Swarmers captured in the previous battle. Their mission was to patrol for survivors or for any Kadeshi that may pose a threat.

Hours later, a weak distress signal was detected, and scouts investigated the location. There was a small convoy of heavily damaged transports, Ion Array Frigates, and Taiidani Resourcers, hiding among dust clouds and asteroids, hidden by a few Taiidani cloak generators. The Thief corvettes came and towed the ships to the Mule. A captain of a ship thanked the Raider gods for the deliverance. He told the Mule they have been hiding from Kadeshi patrols for hours, unable to hyperspace and when they detected the familiar energy signature of a Raider vessel, they released their distress signal.

With her mind so occupied and her emotions in a turmoil, in all the hours she had forgotten to remove her ceremonial Segura robes. Her makeup though, had deteriorated significantly since the funeral rites. She didn’t let the cumbersome robes impede her as she ran with Seejuk to the docking bays, as the Mule received their survivors from the Outpost.

When the refugees came out, there were crying from the death of loved ones and for the gift of still being alive. Several refugees fell down to their feet and kowtowed to a very surprised Zha.

“Praise the Segura for saving us. Princess of Khor, we are at your mercy!”

That was when she realized she still had her ceremonial robes. Seejuk nudged her shoulder, whispering, “Don’t take it off, keep it for the effect.”

He added, “These people need an authority figure right now, so you better act royally like one. Don’t let them down.” Zha looked at him with her sad reddened eyes, and nodded in agreement. Seejuk continued, “I’ll take care of the ship and the necessary logistics, you just take care of your people.”

“Thanks, ” she said, as she knelt to help carry a wounded child.

The scene was terrible, much like he remembered when he first came on the Mule, full of displaced refugees. The wounded were being led to the medical facilities, while living quarters have to be prepared for the refugees. Some may have to sleep in the docking bays and the stock rooms. He thought it may be unsympathetic, but he saw an opportunity for the Mule to regain its strength and complement. He asked one of the officers to note every men and women. With some training on the simulators, they can be recruited as crew and pilots for the Mule and its craft.

The Resource Collectors was heaven sent. The Mule was nearly bankrupt and they are in bad need to look for resources, not just to complete all repairs, but to feed the additional people in the ship. Soon enough, the Collectors will be sent to the clouds for both metallic and gaseous material that can be converted to nutrients. It was odd to see the Array Frigates used as emergency refugee ship, but they were a blessing too as additional firepower for the Mule’s rag tag fleet.

The Thieves were salvaging anything of value. There were signs that a Taiidani fleet tried to assist the Outpost in vain, guessing from the wreckage, which looks like maybe, they can put some Taiidani Attack Bombers, called Kaarks by Hiigarans, but Warhawks by their native name. There were Warhammer Heavy and Deathhammer Multigun Corvettes, also known as Dirvass for the Hiigarans . These would be valuable, he thought, if they’re going to deal with Swarmers. Towards the end of the working period, the collection has added Bandits, Brigands, Thieves from the former outpost, some of them drifting in space without fuel and pilots still half alive just waiting for their oxygen to finally run out. There were even some drifting dead Swarmers too, including the Advanced and Bomber types. He wished if he could find the generator of a Defense Field Frigate, or some Defense fighters, but there were none. He should be content of his lucky finds, as now, the salvage has allowed the Mule to recover to nearly full strength.

It was exhausting but the work shall continue as they refitted the ships. Many of the refugees and surviving pilots announced their intentions to loyally serve under Princess Zha, Segura of Khor, and swore a blood oath of vengeance against the Kadeshi. As for Zha, who remained uncomfortable about titles, she was still busy tending to the refugees, assuring the despondent, even talking and singing to the children. He remembered how he was in her position once, and she was like those children. For a moment, his heart felt warm, and he felt proud.

She had made a makeshift bed in the docking bay, and several refugee children lay sleeping there. He could see it from where he was fixing a Taiidani Warhammer Heavy Corvette. There was something glittering on top of the bed, and he could not resist his curiosity to go there and find out. Zha Khor was sleeping on the floor next to the children, dirty and deeply exhausted. She never had the time to change from her ceremonial robes. Over the children, she had laid her golden glittering robes as a blanket to warm them.

Chapter 4 | Landing Page | Chapter 6

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