The Kadeshi Crusade – Chapter 6 – Engagement

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The Kadeshi Crusade

A Homeworld Fanfiction

by Crobato

Originally posted May 15, 2001

Chapter 6 – Engagement

As a child she was frail, but unusual to look at. She had a metallic silvery blonde hair with cold steel eyes to match. For that other children were afraid of her, called her a freak. She never played with them either.

Inside the great Arkships of Kadesh, G’yela had only one friend. It was a creature alien to the Arkships, a Bunari, a slimy, slithering creature with two big eyes with an unusual sensitivity of its environment. No one knows how the Bunaris got to the Arkships, or what they were originally called, but that was what the Kadeshi called them. When the Kadeshi trapped and captured unsuspecting merchant ships who unexpectedly ran into the Gardens, these ships often carried all sorts of alien vermin in their holds. When the captured ships were brought to the Arkships for assimilation, these vermin escape into the slums of the Arkships, adding themselves to the ecology in the slums. Sometimes when the vermin get big enough, the people themselves will eat them.

In the Arkships, there was no day or night. They were always surrounded by the pinkish glare from the nebula clouds that will never go away, an existance of perpetual cloudiness that drives many Kadeshi into madness. It was in a sense, that the Gardens were a living hell, a state of condemnation bestowed upon them by the Mother. The Kadeshi were taught to protect the Gardens, for the Gardens protect them, provide them nourishment. But the Gardens also demand their sanities with its perpetual cloudiness and glare, in a cycle where there is no day, where there is no night. For the nourishing Gardens was also their Hell.

Sometimes the Arkships drift in a part of the Gardens where the clouds were thinnest. That was when the Stars appear in the sky. The first time G’yela saw a Star, a sense of liberation came down deep inside her. She knew then that if the skies can change, so can life. She knew then that there was something beyond her paltry existance, that if she can reach for it, she will be free. But most of all, she felt she belonged out there.

Even as poor as the vermin around her, G’yela would ask the older people questions to learn about the stars. She wanted to learn how to read, so she can read the ancient texts of the Faith, where she heard, would hold the secrets about the Stars.

She never knew when the Stars would appear again. They would appear one day, disappear the next. During the time she waited, she would toy with this Bunari that has found a home in a crack near her own home. Her pet Bunari would always listen to her, whatever her feelings was, whatever she dreamt about, even if it would never speak. It’s eyes would always looked at hers.

But one day, the Bunari wasn’t there to wait for the Stars with her. She looked around, calling it with the name she gave to it before. But the Bunari was no where. Then across the window of a neighbor, she saw its carcass hanging from a stick on top of a fire. The woman inside the house was cooking the Bunari for her family.

G’yela screamed at the top of her lungs with a shrill voice. She banged and banged at the woman’s door, calling the Bunari’s name, asking the woman to stop, to give back her Bunari, her only friend. The woman opened the door, her right hand raised and holding a big stick. She hit G’yela on the head with the stick, then again, but G’yela would not leave the door, wanting to save her only friend. Even when her head bled, she would not abandon her friend. The woman was fed up, grabbed G’yela on her hair, and dragged her across the street, then hit her, again and again.

G’yela could not remember nor feel the pain even as she lay in the street on a puddle of her own blood. She only wanted to save her friend. She shouted and shouted the name of her friend, but the door stayed closed.

G’yela woke up, breathing heavily. What is this strange dream? What does it mean? The Kadeshi was cursed with madness, and she herself bore that curse. The Kadeshi will always protect the Gardens, but they will also be doomed by it.

For the porthole of her Mothership the Khar’nak, G’yela could see the darkness and the Stars in them. She walked to the porthole, and sat there, staring.

***

Zha woked up from the alarms sounding off. She had given her robes to the children as a blanket, and with only a thin blouse and shorts, she could feel the coldness of the air in the docking bay. Her head ached—but the flashing red lights…Red Alert! There was an engineer’s jacket that lay there and did not belong to her, but she took it anyway.

On the bridge, Seejuk looked trim and ready as always. She herself was a complete mess, but it didn’t stop her from walking proudly to the captain’s chair. “Status report!” she barked with an authoritative tone, trying to hide her sleepiness.

Seejuk typed something in his console, and the screens came up. The series of lights indicated enemy ships. “We got our cloaks up, and all our ships have either docked or remained within the cloaking field. What you see now is a small enemy task force engaged in resourcing. They have not detected us yet, so we have the supreme tactical advantage of surprise. “

“Now, Captain, we have a choice. We can attack, or we can ignore. We do not stand to profit from any action. I do warn you though that our new recruits are not ready, many of the acquired ships are not battle ready and only half of our strike force complement are operational.”

But Zha looked determined. “From the way I see it, Seejuk, we got two choices. We can hide like cowardly dogs or strike out like a true predator of Togath! We have many here that have sworn a Blood Oath against those who wantonly destroyed the Merak outpost. We will not disappoint them. If we win, this will be big boost in morale…”

“…and if we lose…we will all die too…including those refugees…” Seejuk added. “We can determine our chances. Our tactical analysis reveals this large ship as possibly a new type, my estimate to be possibly an escort or assault carrier. It’s much smaller than a Needleship, but given the way Swarmers move in and out from it, it is definitely a carrier. These Resourcers are also docking with it, which you can’t do with a Fuel Pod. The carrier is protected by a usual complement of smaller capital ships, your multibeam frigates, fuel, supply and assault pods. “

Zha studied the screens, weighing all tactical options. She noted that considerable distances lay between the Kadeshi carrier task force and the resources, and she saw her opening.

“We need to execute this as precisely as possible. Seejuk, if we cannot win this, then we can never win at all. We would have deserved to die instead.”

The alarms screamed in a Kadeshi Resourcer as an X formation of Bandit interceptors emerged from the random asteroid formation. The Bandits strafed the Resourcer, while a mixed formation of Furies, Raptors, Predators and Kaark-Warhawks hit another Resourcer. Sure enough, all Swarmers currently in space responded to the distress calls of the Resourcers and rushed to engage the unexpected enemy.

“Now, NOW!” Zha shouted, forming her hand into a fist and angrily shaking it at her tactical screens.

The Mule hyperspaced right under the Kadeshi assault carrier, with an escorting fleet of Turanic Ion Array Frigates and captured Kadeshi Multi Beam Frigates, just seconds before the assault carrier hit the hyperspace inhibitor. The special array panel in the Mule’s nose opened like a flower, and the massive ion beam shot out from it, burning into the assault carrier. In a spit second later, smaller beams joined the main beam. Some of these beams were from the Mule’s new auxiliary ion cannons, salvaged from Multi Beam Frigates earlier.

The beams blasted through the carrier’s flight decks, stopping the remaining Swarmers from taking off. The escorting Kadeshi pods and frigates opened desperate fire against the Mule.

“Oh the Desert Gods of Kharak! This is all ruining the Mule’s new paint job!” Seejuk exclaimed, his fingers rummaging through his trim hair.

“Fire again!” Zha shouted, as enemy beams racked the Mule. The Mule’s main beam blew through the Kadeshi Assault Carrier, the final blow in the duel between equals.

“Yes!” Zha threw her fist in the air. As the carrier turned into a brilliant fireball, her frigates took advantage of the confusion and torched the Kadeshi escort frigates and pods.

“I do not want the enemy pods and frigates destroyed. Send the Thief Corvettes in. Hyperspace the Mule and our Frigates out of here!” Zha snapped.

The Kadeshi frigates found themselves shooting into empty space as the Turanic fleet quickly disappeared through the jump gates. They had little time to respond as Thief corvettes escorted by Brigands lit up their screens. Their slow maneuverability and poor weapons coverage meant that the Pods and Multi Beam Frigates were unable to meet their new attackers in time, and the Raiders demonstrated their text book forte. Soon, Kadeshi frigates and pods hopelessly struggled as the Thieves carried them off as proud prizes.

But elsewhere, the battle was not turning to her favor. The Kadeshi Resourcers proved the tough hides, and both Turanic and Taiidani fighters were unable to deal with both Resourcers and Swarmers simultaneously. The Bandits, Furies, the Raptors, the Predators, and Kaarks-Warhawks were in a disadvantage dogfighting the heavier armed, armored and faster Swarmers. Zha’s joy of victory was clouded as another of her fighters blew into a cloud of smoke.

“As soon as the Thief corvettes deliver the Kadeshi frigates, I want them all on the remaining Resourcers. Get the Brigands to cover our fighters. This time I am going in personally!”

“But…” Seejuk objected. But there was no use arguing against a young captain whose ship happened to be named after her character. He quickly called the docking bay. “Sir,” one of the engineers responded, “we can get one or two of the Warhammer and Deathhammer corvettes out. We’re still fixing up the rest”

“Then I want those that can fly out to cover our captain’s ass!” Seejuk ordered. “Dammit I wish we got our gravwells by now.”

Optimized against capital ships best, the Brigands were not doing any better against the fast and maneuverable Swarmers. But for the dogfighting Taiidani and Turanic ships, the presence of the Brigands were encouraging. Some of the Thieves have finished delivering their captured cargo and has set out to deliver the Resourcers.

The appearance of the Captain’s custom Fury interceptor added a further boost to the morale of the fighters and corvettes still engaging the Swarmers. Right behind her were two Warhammers and one Deathhammer. Zha was reckless in her pursuit of the Swarmers. Her escorting corvettes showed their worth as they blew two Swarmers that got into her tail.

Some of the Swarmers saw the Thieves moving into the Resourcers. One or two of the Resourcers managed to hyperspace, but one got into the jaws of two Thieves. But two of the Swarmers showed their amazing speed, strafing their Thieves, and blowing up one of them. The other Thief let go, turned around, and fired its turrets at an incoming Swarmer. The Swarmer disintegrated from its devastating fire.

Scattered and without support, one by one, the Swarmers fought to a gallant end, as the Mule sent more hastily repaired fighters and corvettes to turn the tide of battle. Those that didn’t die in battle, tried to crash against the Turanic corvettes. Despite heavy covering fire, some were successful in their kamikaze attempts.

As Zha returned to the hanger in her Fury, Seejuk, waiting, saw her frustration. “Damn, they were all too fast this time. I could not get a single one of them.”

Seejuk could smell her sweat and other body odors from her flight suit. The girl has not cleaned up for some time to have made this too obvious. Not letting her odors distract him, Seejuk pronounced his conclusions.

“The good news is we got some new ships to add to our fleet. The Multibeam Frigates are always valuable, but this time, we got the new Assault and the Supply Pods. The Supply Pods clearly show the Kadeshi are taking any salvaged technology they can and are adapting them to their use. We know they got Cloaks and by now, they probably have Gravwells as well. The Assault Carrier also shows the Kadeshi are developing a more tactically comprehensive fleet. Sooner or later they will fill up all the holes in their fleet roster classes, which will include Destroyers, Cruisers in the heavy end, and maybe corvette variation in the light end.”

“The bad news is that we lost more of our strike force complement and the Resourcers got away. We cannot take any engagement against the Kadeshi more unless we have some way to deal with their Swarming tactics. In the Homeworld War, they were limited by fuel capacity and blowing their Fuel Pods would have done it. Now it’s a different matter with their high efficiency drives.”

“We can obtain some Defenders but they’re only useful in a defensive role. They may have good weapons coverage but in a straight fight in deep space, their lack of speed is a major disadvantage against Swarmers nearly three times faster. Another alternative is to beef up our corvette fleet. While still economical, our Raachoks are being fought to the limits of their capability, and we need to make more Diirvaas Multigun Corvettes, but their cost may bankrupt us if we are to built a large number of them and maintain our Thieves and Brigands. Same goes with Heavy Corvettes which we also have a few. Unless of course, we can get someone who would happily donate them to us. I suggest, we head for the nearest Republican or Kushan base. Maybe we can get some donations with these Heavy and Multi Gun corvettes, and we can obtain more surplus and black market light corvettes. I know a place that we can get Kushan Cavaliers quite cheap, and get more Raachoks too. For no less the cash you can get for a brand new Interceptor. They would help as a stop gap.”

***

Allied bases were a product of the Beast War. These were originally Taiidani bases that were under a joint Taiidan Republican and Kushan command in a cooperative military venture against the Beast. These days, these bases were used against Turanic Raider activity or Taiidan Imperialist excursions. It was no surprise then that the base sent out a large welcoming party of at least a Heavy Cruiser, two destroyers and a flotilla of frigates when a Turanic carrier task force hyperspaced with a flotilla of Ion Array frigates and quite remarkably with Kadeshi Multi Beam Frigates.

“Wow, I’ve never seen a Kushan Heavy Cruiser before. That thing looks quite impressive. Those Kushan destroyers too…” Zha excitedly exclaimed.

“They’re not going to be friendly either, unless we do something soon,” Seejuk said. “Give me the comms.”

After some communication protocol switching, the faces of the Kushan fleet commander appeared in the screen.

“Turanic Raider, state your intentions. You will either stand down or surrender, or are you going to engage us in glorious battle?”

“Fleet Commander,” Seejuk replied. “This is Black Star Commander Seejuk Liirhra of Hiigaran intelligence. I’m sending you my verification codes right now. This Turanic task force you see is coming not with hostile intentions, but on a diplomatic mission and with a request for humanitarian and military aid against the Kadeshi forces. I have in my presence, no less than a member of the Turanic Inner House of Lords, a Princess, you might say.”

The Fleet Commander replied after a few seconds. “This is a most unusual circumstance that a Intelligence Commander of your rank would be aboard the command bridge of a Turanic carrier force. But your numbers checked out. Welcome Commander. We will escort to the base.”

Zha appeared shocked. “…Commander? Hiigaran Intelligence? What?…”

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