Soul of the Progenitors
A Homeworld Fanfiction
Originally posted August 26, 2004 – 5:32AM
Act. 1 — The Graveyard of Taal-Shia
I write this under my name, Soran Gaalsien, about an event that came to pass. It began during the Dust Wars, and ended after the End Times, in the beginning of the Age of S’jet. It was an event greater than the discovery of Sajuuk, and the opening of the Eye of Arran. It was an event so great that the Sajuuk-cor herself asked that I must not tell it to anyone, but to preserve it in writing till one day, after so many generations have passed, so they could finally have the understanding. Had this story been known in the wrong time and place, it would have torn empires.
It began with a ship that ventured too close to the Outer Rim…
After the Beast War, the Kiith Somtaaw was rewarded with more access to the great Mothership. There the Somtaaw built more Explorer class ships after the Kun-laan and the Fal-Coruum. Their mission was to mine the riches of the known galaxy and bring them all to Hiigara to rebuild her. They served their mission well, some say all too well. They ventured far and wide, to bring riches both to their Kiithid and to all Hiigara. They were sturdy ships, serving long for generations, and some of them were still around with the Vaygr Crusades began their invasion of the Inner Rim.
The Explorer class ship Khontala was one such ship. For many years, fortune smiled on her as she explored new systems, fighting against hostile factions of Taiidan who still dreamed of empire and Turanics who feasted on anything. In that fateful day, however, the fortunes of the gods were not smiling with her.
There was a flash, the lights dimmed, and the ship shook. A flight of Vaygr missile corvettes swept pass the view of the bridge. Captain Radal Somtaaw grimaced and held on to a handle in the bridge lest he would fall. Acolytes chased after the missile corvettes and with beams they burned the fleeing corvettes, leaving a burning trail and a ball of flame. The Acolytes were the latest in a long and refined line from the first Acolytes that battled the Beast. They were designed in honor of the legendary Super Acolytes of the Bentusi, the fighters that finally brought down the Naggarok. While they have the same appearance, they lacked the miniature ion beam tech the Bentusi passed to the Somtaaw that was used only for a short moment, then quickly forgotten. There was no way for the Somtaaw to duplicate the same technology. But many years later, when pulsar beam technologies was perfected, the Somtaaw applied them to the latest Marks of Acolytes
Not like the legendary Super Acolytes of old, the new Acolytes were close enough. Already they tore through the formations of Taiidan and Turanic ships allied to the Vaygr cause—the Converted they say, to the new Vaygr faith. The combined Taiidan, Turanic and Vaygr fleet had hunted them across a dozen systems. The Somtaaw fleet resisted them with every turn, but in every battle, the Somtaaw suffered increasing losses. Radal knew he could not keep this up. Not even equipping with the ability to create the latest Hiigaran frigates, could they hope to stop the Crusade.
A Qwaar-Jet, converted to the cause of the Vaygr, burned its ion beams and pulse cannons torpedo and ion beam frigates that were ahead of the Khontala. The Qwaar Jet was a design that had been around for two centuries, but with the latest ion beams, pulse cannons and the armor upgrades, it was more than a match even to a formation of torpedo frigates. Radal watched in horror as frigate after frigate succumbed to the heavy cruiser’s attack. He cannot imagine the loss of life, but he dare not let himself get distracted with the thoughts of death. You cannot mourn for the dead. You can only avenge them.
Radal shouted to his subordinates. “Turn me 20 degrees to the port, and give me two thirds!”
“But sir, that will take us to the heavy cruiser,” a lieutenant informed him.
“That’s the idea,” Radal replied. The Khontala had been upgraded with the latest Burst cannons that began appearing in the latest Hiigaran Battlecruiser designs. The Burst cannons replaced the inefficient Siege Cannon weapons that drain too much energy and fired too long. Radal could also wish for a Battlecruiser now. He had already lost two carriers in previous engagements but his dwindling fleet still has an Archangel Dreadnaught, upgraded with torpedoes, as well as two improved Deacon destroyers, also upgraded with Kinetic Burst Cannons and torpedoes.
“Order the remaining Acolytes to attack the heavy cruiser,” he ordered.
“But sir, the Vaygr and Turanic Missile Corvettes are still hitting us!” cried the lieutenant.
“Order the Archangel to use her Repulsor Field now!” Radal ordered. “Stand by for impact.”
The field swept throughout the formation and pushed the enemy corvettes outward. But that will only hold them temporarily. Once free of the repulsor field, the corvettes rushed to the stricken Somtaaw fleet, tasting almost certain victory.
It was almost a mistake to send the Acolytes against the Taiidan task force. “Get the Pulsar Frigates to cover the Khontala!” Radal ordered. The Pulsar frigate was based on the Dervish multibeam frigates that had so long served as the Somtaaw assault and anti strike craft frigate. But instead of the mini-ion beams, the turrets now hold enhanced power pulsar beams. The frigates would surely throw cold water against the corvette attack rush.
He was right, fortunately this time, as the Khontala could not withstand another rush. The flashes of pulsars sent many a missile corvette burning into hell, but it was not without some sacrifice among the frigates.
The Khontala had to hold on. Radal ordered the Resourcers to make emergency repairs on the ship. When Radal was young, he could remember the old Workers that do the job of repairing by spraying ablative compound on the ship’s hull. But the new Hiigaran Resourcers had taken the role of the Workers, and the best they could do now was to inject repair bots to the hull and weld any hull breach shut with their claws.
“Sir,” his radar officer said. “We just detected a Lord class carrier escorting the heavy cruiser. We also detected a formation of frigates led by two Skaal-Tel destroyers. A number of Assaults frigs with Ion Array frigs in the center.”
“Order the Destroyers to take care of the Frigates,” Radal ordered.
Suddenly, his center com lit with the face of Naasha, his wife. “What is happening?” She said with great concern.
“By the Name of Sajuuk, please not now,” Radal told her.
“We have too many wounded. The clinics could no longer accommodate the wounded, and the ship power is too erratic to maintain steady power to all the medical equipment,” she cried. “By the holy sands of Kharak, if we cannot fix this, many would die.”
“Please my dear, if we cannot defeat the enemy, we would all die. Just hold on and do the best you can to help our wounded,” Radal said.
“I will try my best. May Sajuuk help us, and we pray for victory and a safe return,” Naasha said.
“I love you, my dear Naasha,” Radal said. “I need to tell you that.”
“I love you too, Radal Somtaaw,” she replied before the screens went blank.
“Ship status,” Radal cried out.
“We are now 30% repaired,” said the engineering officer.
“Give me a view of the enemy Heavy Cruiser,” Radal ordered and the screens filled the image of the enemy Qwarr-Jet in Vaygr colors. Behind it, the Lord class was also in Vaygr colors, the crew and leaders of both ships “converted” to the Vaygr faith.
“Order the Dreadnaught Sudan to open fire on the enemy Heavy Cruiser,” Radal ordered.
The ship shook as the Qwaar Jet’s ion beams and pulse cannons rocked the Khontala. The Sudan’s twin heavy Ion Beams streaked to the Qwaar Jet and impacted its hulls, sending out a massive cloud as the ion beams torched the ablative coatings. Then the Sudan lashed out a spread of torpedoes.
“Target the Heavy Cruiser and fire!” Radal ordered. Pulses streaked out from the Khontala’s pulse cannons.
Waves of corvettes streaked out from the Lord class carrier, but the Acolytes intercepted most of them, the Pulsar frigates did the rest.
He ordered the battle map to be displayed full screen. The Deacons were heavily engaged against the frigates and the Skaal-Tels, and it was obvious that the Skaal-Tels were as upgraded as the Qwaar-Jet was. The Pulsar frigates have advanced to support the Deacons on their battle, while the Khontala and the Dreadnaught concentrated their fire on the Qwaar-Jet. The Lord class carrier has moved forward to deploy her twin ion beams against the Khontala.
Radal clenched his fist as the beams lashed out to his ship. The engineering officer warned. “We are now down to 25% hull status left.”
Fortunately the Archangel had diverted the Qwarr-Jet’s fire, as the Khontala could not take more punishment. A spread of torpedoes slammed against the Heavy Cruiser, and Radal’s heart leapt as the Heavy Cruiser broke up in a series of brilliant flashes.
“Now concentrate fire on the carrier!” Radal ordered. But even before he ordered, the Acolytes strafed the carrier. The Dreadnaught turned towards its new target and so did the Khontala.
“We only have one fourth of our frigates left, but we got all of the enemy frigates” the tactical officer informed. “We also got one of the enemy destroyers. The other is retreating.”
“Don’t let it get away,” Radal ordered. “If the destroyer gets away, it would haunt us later.”
Ion beams and torpedoes slammed against the surviving destroyer, and it erupted into a ball of light.
Volleys of torpedoes erupted against the hull of the carrier, and the ion beams began to punch through. Smoke emanated through the ship’s wounds, then a flash of light.
Radal was silent. The entire bridge was silent. Then there were shouts of joy as debris remained where the last enemy carrier stood.
Radal breathed a sign of relief.
But he noticed the troubled look on his radar officer’s face. “What was it?” he asked.
“By Sajuuk’s name, we just got multiple hyperspace signatures across the system. One, two, three ships, looks like an entire fleet, sir.”
“How big?” Radal asked.
“Big sir, bigger than the last one. We detected a larger ship than the rest.”
“Put it on screen,” Radal ordered.
The tactical officer gasped at the sight. “The main Vaygr fleet.”
“I know. The Taiidan and the Turanics was just a scouting force to weaken us,” Radal said. “What is that big ship in the center?” Radal expected that he would not like the answer. “It was the first time I ever saw it.”
“Our database calls the ship, a Vaygr Battlecruiser,” said the tactical officer. “We developed our new Battlecruiser to counter it.”
“But we don’t have a Battlecruiser now,” Radal said. “Even with our last surviving dreadnaught, we are ill equipped to deal with a fleet this size. Order all strike craft to dock and prepare for hyperspace jump. Do it quickly before they locate and jump to us. Hurry!”
“Roger,” said the tactical officer. The docking could have won a speed record.
The remaining frigates, destroyers and the Dreadnaught aligned with the Khontala.
“Hyperspace now,” Radal ordered.
The ships came out from hyperspace.
“What happened?” Radal asked.
“Our hyperspace journey was interrupted,” the science officer said. “There is an anomaly in the system that could be causing it.”
“Where are we?” Radal asked.
“This is a new system,” said the navigation officer. “We have not seen this in the star maps of the area before.
“So we stumbled on to something. That’s great. That’s just great,” Radal mentioned in exasperation.
“Sir?” said an ensign.
“Please sir, look at the screens.”
What Radal saw made him leave the chair and walked to the screen slowly. All other eyes were transfixed on the images.
Amidst the perpetual orange sunset in the horizon, were dark silhouettes. Many dark silhouettes. Radal ordered to magnify and scan.
The silhouettes turned into recognizable hulls of ships. Was hulls of ships—they were derelicts, all broken, in pieces and wrecks. More and more, shadows of dead ships filled the space.
“Where are we?” Radal asked again.
“It looks like a ship graveyard,” said the science officer.
“This is not Karos, is it?” Radal asked, even though he knew the Khontala could not jump that far.
“No it is not,” said the navigation officer. “This is something entirely new and undiscovered.”
“Do you remember what the stories tell about what happened with the Mothership passed through the Karos graveyard?” the tactical officer said.
“Sure I remember—sound the battle stations, red alert, all ships into defensive formation alpha, launch all strike craft. Do it now!” Radal ordered. “I hope this graveyard would be different, or…”
“Sir, we got movement inside the derelicts.”
“I guess not, ensign. Battlestations!”
As Radal expected, the graveyard can harbor strange things like the near mythical Scrapyard Dogs the Mothership encountered in her journey through the Karos Graveyard. Hostile things. He needed to think quickly. If the Dogs snatched his ships, he must use Marine frigates to retrieve them back.
“Sir, it’s not like the Scrapyard Dogs sir,” the tactical officer said. “Something else.”
“What is that?” Radal asked.
“Looks like corvettes sir. Funny sir, that they don’t have any life signs.”
“No life signs, eh, lieutenant? We must be dealing with drones or some robotic AI. Alive or not, I don’t like the looks of it and the way its coming at us. Prepare to engage.” Radal clenched his fist.
Whatever these new corvettes were, they were unstoppable. Luckily they were not Vagyr but that fact gave little comfort. Were they protecting something in the graveyard? Radal wondered. They must have stumbled something that was not meant to be discovered.
His Acolyte fleet had all but decimated. There was barely enough resources left to replace the ships. Then his last Pulsar frigate succumbed to the strange corvette attacks. But not before a considerable number of the enemy corvettes were destroyed.
The enemy swarm was endless, and Radal began to feel despair. We may never get home alive now. All this fleet, it will join the graveyard here. By all that is holy under Sajuuk, Kharak and Hiigara, we will die fighting to the end. We will not die in vain. The remains of the Khontala and the Sudan will speak of our sacrifice forever to whoever comes to this forsaken graveyard. If only we can send something to tell our families of our fate here.
Then his thoughts were of his wife, Naasha, still young. We will never see our dreams together, but at least, we can die together .
“We got more energy signatures,” the tactical officer said.
“What now?” Radal shouted.
“Destroyer class ships, this time.”
“Vaygr? Taiidan?” Radal asked.
“No, the energy signatures and metal composition indicates the same race as these new corvettes.”
“Damnit. By the Curse of Sajuuk…”
“Sir, we have nothing left, our ships cannot even withstand the corvette attack much less this.”
“Don’t you think I know, ensign?”
“Sir, something is coming through our com channels!”
“Let’s hear it,” Radal said.
The booming, metallic voice seized the speakers. Whatever the voice was, it wasn’t human. It seemed more of a ghost, more of a recording, than something alive.
“We are the Keepers of the Graveyard, this we call the Taar-Shia, the Place of the Lost Souls. You have trespassed, and for that you must be silenced. You have met our Movers.”
“Those little corvettes, yes, we have met your Movers,” Radal replied. “But we have no purpose to desecrate this graveyard of yours. Please, stop your attacks and let us through. We have been through many battles and we are down to our very last.”
“This is the most holy of holy places,” the Keeper said. “We protect all that is sacred for the Key.”
“Keeper, I beg of you. Have mercy on us,” Radal said.
“We must do the task assigned to us….” The Keeper cut the communication off.
“Sir, the enemy destroyers are launching drones!”
“What?” Radal exclaimed. He was reminded of the Hive frigates his Kiithid once used but has long since phased out. “If the drones are anything like those Movers there…” He cut himself off.
“There is only one thing left to do, everyone, we will go down fighting,” Radal spoke. “This is for Kiithid Somtaaw, for Hiigara. Order all ships to concentrate fire on the lead destroyer. If we’re going to die, we will take down as many of them. We will show to all races that a Hiigaran is nothing to be trifled with.”
His speech brought roars and acclaim from his bridge staff. They have been depressed, and now, they smiled. They have accepted their fate, as I do. Now there was only one thing to left to do. He called up the infirmary for his wife. At least, we will die together here.
Radal woke up. His head lay on a lap, and as he glanced upward, he saw the face of his wife. Am I dead? Am I in heaven? I see Naasha. It appears she has joined me in the next life.
“Radal! Radal!” Naasha slapped his face lightly. “Wake up, Radal.”
“Naasha, is that you? Am I dead?
“No, Radal, you are still alive.”
Radal looked around. The surroundings appeared familiar, but his mind were too much in a daze to recognize it. “Where are we?’
“We are in the Dai-san explorer,” Naasha said. “You were wounded in the bridge, and the staff brought you into the infirmary unconscious. When the call to abandon the Khontala was made, we dragged you into this ship.”
“The Dai-san,” Radal cleaned his eyes and shook his head. “That’s the science ship docked to the Khontala.” The Dai-san was something built similarly to the Clee-san that was lost to the Beast long ago. The Clee-san proved to be the first of a long line of dockable science ships.
“Yes,” Naasha replied.
“What happened to the Khontala? The rest of the ship? The rest of the crew?” Radal asked in an urgent, agitated voice.
“We lost the Khontala, the Sudan, every ship,” Naasha said. “They were too powerful. We lost everyone. As far as I know, we are the only ones left alive.”
For a big man, Radal began to cry. “Our ship, our crew, our friends. All lost all dead. Maybe you should have left me back in the Khontala. A captain must go down with his ship. An entire Explorer class vessel and its support fleet—gone.”
Naasha hugged him closely. “But we still have each other, Radal. Please. Stay alive for me.”
Radal stared at Naasha’s cold blue eyes. He sighed and hugged her. “Yes. At least we are still together. But for how long? How did you get the Dai-san to escape the Keepers and their attention?”
“By pretending that this ship is a wreck,” Naasha replied. “We have been drifting for days, using the power minimally, and the thrusters once in a while to guide our course. If we can drift beyond their range of their hyperspace disrupters, maybe we can jump out of the system.”
“Radal, if we live, at least we can make sure our crews and friends will not die in vain and forgotten,” she added.
Radal could not agree more.
“It turns out we have some provisions on this ship to make our journey. In the meantime, I have been studying the wrecks,” Naasha said. “Remember, Radal, we used to study archeology together back in school.”
“Yes, I remember,” he smiled. It was an odd time to smile but smile he did. “That was before I became a miner, then as a head of a mining fleet.”
“And yes, we were both very busy. Never found the time to have children…” Naasha said.
“Probably one of the biggest regrets in my life,” Radal said. “Maybe we should have found the time. Now it looks like we have plenty of time, and at the same time, it may be too late for us now.” But as he talked, he found Naasha busy concentrating on the instruments, and from where he sat, he knew she was doing passive scans.
“What are you doing, Naasha?”
“Like I said, Radal, I’ve been studying the wrecks. It’s interesting. Very interesting. The wrecks appear to be thousands, if not tens of thousands of years old.”
“What kind of race, is it?” Radal asked, his own interest beginning to perk up.
“Something new, and very ancient. Perhaps connected to the Keepers and Movers we have seen.” Naasha tinkered with the instruments.
Radal joined her and assisted on the scans. “The Keepers and the Movers didn’t have any life signs at all. We were dealing with artificial intelligences Whoever programmed these robots, did so thousands of years ago and was meant to protect what is in this ship graveyard.”
“I can only say that this graveyard must have been the scene of a large battle,” Naasha said. “I can only imagine a battle of this size, this immensity. Long time ago, two armadas clashed and died here.”
“Wait, Naasha, it takes two sides to fight. If there was a war here, then there must be a second race. Among the wrecks, there should be equal signs of the second race.”
“Which I believe, could appear like this—“ Naasha pulled out a picture. “This ship wreck is remarkably different from the others. Note that its has a star like symmetrical shape, all these arms forming into a center maw.”
“I have to say, that’s a scary looking ship,” Radal said. “And there are more of these?”
“Yes, Radal, quite a few, mixed among the wrecks.”
“I say, this is a great discovery, if we can stay alive long enough to escape this,” Radal said. He felt his strength returning with a new motivation to live.
Radal and Naasha spent their time cataloging many of the wrecks using passive scans. Anything beyond that, they spent their time only a man and a woman can.
“Naasha,” Radal tugged at the sheets that covered his naked wife’s body. “I think there is something here.” Radal saw an image on a monitor on the corner of his eyes.
“What is it?” Naasha said.
“I think you better wake up and check it out.”
She grabbed the sheets and wrapped it around her. Then both she and Radal walked to the scanning station.
“Look at this.” Radal pointed to a long huge monolith floating among smaller wrecks. It was—grand.
“Yes I see it now, Radal. What is it?”
“I don’t know. It’s nearly twice as big as our Mothership. Whatever it is, the way it’s designed, it ain’t natural. It’s artificially made.”
“Are you sure, Radal? I can’t imagine a structure this big unless it’s a super sized ship yard or mothership. It’s not just big—it is gigantic, like a flying city. Let us do a detailed passive scan.”
“Right with you, my dear.” Radal quickly sat on the scanning console, and starting pressing buttons. “Recording all this for posterity.”
“The ship appears to have markings and structures on it,” Naasha said. “Take a closer look”.
“Right with you.” Radal scanned the writing and the surface structures. He noticed a three pronged structure and subjected it to higher magnification. “Yes it has structures in the surface. Here take a look at this. There are three of them aligned in a symmetrical form. What ever this is, it reminds me like the design of a hyperspace core of some kind. But its also huge, like it was made for—well a ship of this size and mass.”
“So you think it is a ship?” Naasha asked, her eyes scanning the results from the other instruments.
“It could be, I’m not sure. It looks to me in my opinion. I see a lot of writings alongside of the structure, can you make it out? Naasha?”
“The language is unknown to me, but the script has both Hiigaran and Taiidan influences. It could be from a mother language that predates both. If we can record enough of the script, along with the other scripts we have observed from the wrecks, maybe we can have a linguist study them. If this is a mother tongue that was taught to all races thousands of years ago, then vestiges of the language would still exist even in our languages today. If we can decipher the script, we can unlock the mystery of the structure.” Naasha quickly wrote notes on her tablet.
“If this is a ship, then why the size? What was its purpose?” Radal continued to adjust the settings of the telescopes and the cameras, taking pictures and recording videos at every opportunity.
The Dai-san continued to drift closer and closer to the monolith. “The entire structure appears more like a hull now. This has to be the engines, and this has to be the bridge. The big openings of the side suggest a manufacturing facility and hangers for all sorts of smaller craft. I think it’s a mothership of some sort, but what race? This could be the discovery of a millennia, if we can get out of here alive…” Radal took more photos. At his side, Naasha kept a close eyes on the scans.
Radal did not notice the red lights on the radar recievers. When he did, it was too late. “Incoming!”
He checked the volume search scans, and displayed them in the monitors. “By Sajuuk’s name, the Keepers! They have detected us.”
The Dai-san continued its progress closer and closer to the hulk. It was like a tiny bird against the background of a sheer cliff that was the ancient monolith. “We got two Keeper destroyers class ships heading our way, followed by corvette class ships.”
“Movers?” Naasha took her eyes off her scopes and stared at the screens.
“No, the Dogs this time.” Radal magnified the scans, and the screens showed small ships with grappling claws too big for the ships they belonged.
Naasha knew too well of the old story how the original Mothership encountered the Junkyard Dogs. “What are we going to do?”
What are we going to do? All they had was an unarmed science ship, with only two crew members, low on all resources, and not the least, hope. Radal crept to Naasha, and wrap his arms around her.
She knew there was nothing they could do, but face their fate at the hands of this unknown guardian race that lived among the wrecks of the graveyard. She wrapped her arms around him too, and hugged him tighter. She was thankful to Sajuuk that at least they had a few more days to be together before they would succumb to this inevitable fate.
“I love you my beautiful wife Naasha.” Radal hugged her closely, tears in his eyes.
“My dear husband, I love you too, and we have a good life.” Naasha wiped the tears off her husband’s eyes. “We can only be strong for each other now.” She held his hand tightly.
Their eyes moved to the main monitor. The monolith loomed, dwarfing them. Behind the monolith lay the ancient red orange sun, wrapped in a misty haze of a nebula, like clouds in the horizon. The monolith had a beautiful earth like color, pocked with markings and textures. It was like staring at the grand Khoja cliffs of Hiigara where civilization after civilization built their temples against its vast rock walls, each honoring the great god Sajuuk before the Exile.
It was like staring at the face of the Maker. Radal uttered an old Kharakian prayer, and Naasha joined him. As he prayed, he gazed at the monitors. The Dogs were almost upon their helpless ship.
“Ugh!” Naasha cried out, as she grabbed her belly.
“What happened?” Radal placed his hand where Naasha’s body hurt.
“Something…” Naasha grimaced. “It felt like something kicked me inside.”
Radal smiled. No, he grinned. He tended Naasha’s belly. “I think…I think… you may be having a baby…”
“Fine time to know you’re pregnant.” Naasha drew circles around her belly with her fingers. “We have waited too long for this, and now…how ironic…”
Radal clutched her hand. “It’s still wonderful to know. At least we die as a family.”
The Dai-san shooked as her hull clanged, the sound resonating throughout through her small structure. Radal looked around the small bridge of the ship; the creaking along the walls told him that the Dai-san was in the hands of the grappling claws of the Dogs. The ship began to move in a new direction, but not in the direction of the ship’s power. Radal shut the power off, to let things take its course. Soon he and Naasha will rejoin their lost crews in the afterlife.
The speakers buzzed, and a strange voice uttered. “When the Time comes, you shall return the Key to us.”
Radal knew it was the voice of the Keepers. He quickly pressed the com button. “Who are you? What do you mean the Key?”
The speakers were quiet. There was only static. The Dai-san groaned as her hull struggled against the grasp of the Junkyard Dogs.
The walls hummed. It was an all too familiar sound, and Radal quickly grazed on the main monitor. A shimmering screen awaited them, and Radal knew what it was—a window to hyperspace just before a ship would jump.
Radal grasped his wife harder, and her to him. With one eye, he stared at the screen, as the Dogs threw the Dai-san into the shimmering hyperspace opening. He wondered about the unknown that lay beyond the opening, but it did not seem to matter now. It was the end of a journey.
He woke up. He was surprised that he was able to wake up. Naasha slept beside him. He look at his own hands and body. He touched himself. All still warm and his blood was pulsing. He was alive, still alive. He quickly shook Naasha.
She woke up. “Huh?”
“Naasha..Naasha…we are still alive…” He hugged her.
“Yes we are…Radal…what happened?”
“I don’t know. For some reason we were spared, Naasha. We have been spared.”
Radal stood up and studied the navigation instruments. “Looks like we are no longer in the same space.” He stared at the monitor. The sky was different now, all black, not like the desert sky; the sun a brilliant white, not the aging giant. They were no longer in the nebula.
“The monolith?” Naasha stared at the monitor, then her eyes scanned the instruments.
“It’s gone. Everything is gone, the monolith, the wrecks, the entire graveyard…” Radal began to press the console buttons in panic. He keyed the computer terminals, then checked every instrument. “All our recorded data—-it is all gone too.”
Naasha shuffled all her instruments. “You’re right. It’s all gone. Erased.”
Everything seemed like a dream, but he was sure what happened—the loss of an entire Somtaaw mining fleet and Explorer class vessel at the hands of the Keepers, the graveyard, and the monolith. Otherwise why would he be here, in the small science ship, now a make shift life boat. Naasha remembered it too.
“At least I still got my hand written notes.” Naasha raised her notebook.
“What good will that do? Nobody will ever believe us.” Radal grimaced and threw a notebook to the floor.
“I still believe you, Radal. We saw this together.”
“I know.” He placed her arms around her. “The Keepers did this. They spared us, but erased all our data. I wonder if they erased our memories as well.”
But as he thought about the monolith, everything he remembered about the monolith and the graveyard had a crystal clear clarity. He began to doodle the scripts and the symbols he saw on the wrecks. It came natural for him as if another being possessed his hand. He did not understand what they said, but he could draw them, and he drew more into the notebook.
“Whatever they did, they didn’t erase our memories, Naasha. In fact, I think it was the opposite.”
“I could sense it too, like I remembered more than anything, even things I barely seen.” She scribbled symbols into her notebook. “But why?”
“I don’t know… but they said something about a Key…why?” Radal took a deep breath. “Whatever they want, let us put that behind us now and find a way to get home.”
Naasha continued to doodle the symbols in her notebook, and she started to draw the designs of the ships as well, all in detail. “Do you know where we are now?”
“I’m checking all the star maps now, Naasha. We may be far away, but we will get home.”
Nine months later…
The Hiigaran Shipyard loomed ahead, and the Tugboats were approaching the Science ship.
He held her shaking pale hand. “Hang on, my dear…hang on…”
With her gaunt face she smiled. “My husband, it may not matter any longer…”
“Please don’t leave me.” Radal held her hand. “Look, the baby is fine. See?” He held the baby in his arms, and lowered the baby to her arms. “Looks see, she’s beautiful. She looks just like you.”
“I’m glad…” She twitched in pain. For some reason, she caught radiation poisoning, during the journey home but the baby was fine. He could not understand the cause or the exact moment she was exposed to the radiation. It could have been during the loss of the Khontala; the reactor’s explosion could have released the fatal doses of radiation. And yet he was not affected.
Around her bed was all her notes and papers. She drew as much as she remembered of the graveyard, the derelict and the symbols. The weaker she got, the more she drew, the more she wanted to leave a legacy in those notes, symbols and pictures.
“Hang on…Naasha,..look at the screen, we’re almost home now. The ship, the people there have the facilities to help you. See?” Radal pointed to the main monitor screen, where the Shipyard loomed larger and larger.
The baby cried. Radal rocked her and his new daughter smiled and giggled. “Look, Naasha, look. She’s beautiful and she’s healthy…she’s a wonderful baby, just like what we always dreamed…”
Her smile was still frozen in her face.
Tears ran down Radal’s cheek, as he extended his hand over his wife’s face, and closed her eyes forever.