Soul of the Progenitors
A Homeworld Fanfiction
Originally posted September 3, 2004 – 6:18AM
Iisha hugged her father. He felt like a large wooly animal, all strong and warm inside. It was good to feel his touch and presence again, the sense of solidity he imparted.
Radal grabbed an armload of the chopped wood. “Come on, Iisha, help me take the wood inside.”
She grabbed an armful and she shivered, as there was a half a foot thick of snow in this white capped region of the mountains. The shuttle pilot was kind enough to bring her belongings to the cabin, and she waved him good bye as the shuttle took off to return to the Sajuuk. She turned to the cabin. Here there was memories. Her father had difficulties with the Somtaaw Fleet Command and resigned his command, despite having a strong combat record and experience. He took what was left of his money to start his own mining operation and grew wealthy from that. He then sold it, bought the cabin and decided to live his last years in the mountains in isolation. Many had said, he was so traumatized with the loss of his fleet and his wife in a mining expedition, that he never recovered from that. Some say he saw things he could never prove. Others say he hallucinated. The explanation on the loss of his fleet was unsatisfactory to the Fleet reviewing board, but as the dark times approached with the war against the Vaygr, they never could dismiss him as they needed his talents. The demoted him to commanding a Mobile Refinery, but nonetheless, he choose to retire to run his own business. It probably saved his life, as many of his comrades would later die in that war.
He raised and taught her in the cabin, where she watched his growing sense of isolation and bitterness. The loss of his wife—Iisha’s mother—had left a hole in his heart that he could never fell. When the war came to Hiigara, being in the mountains saved their lives, as nuclear bombs hit the surrounding areas. She can still remember vividly the time when the Planet Destroyers came; the burning streak of fire that appeared like a meteor, heading and burying itself in the horizon, then a big flash of light and a burning mushroom cloud arising. She was hypnotized by the scalding scene of death, then her father grabbed her and pulled her into the cabin, where they weathered the thunderous winds that swept afterward. For days and weeks, the horizons remained burning.
“You look marvelous, my dear Iisha. How is life treating you by?” Radal smiled as he threw the wood pieces one by one to the fire place. “You told me you have a job now and a degree. Wonderful.”
“Yes, father. I am a junior researcher onboard the Sajuuk now.” Iisha threw some of the wood on the fireplace and laid the remaining ones on the floor. She took out her coat.
“You can use your old room,” Radal said. “It remained pretty much like it was since you left it.”
“Thank you,” Iisha said as she took her bag to her old room. She smiled as she gazed at all her old belongings in the room, her toys and books, her old dresses, many of whom she can no longer fit. Her tired and worn pillow still ay on her bed, soft with its familiar and comforting touch. She caressed her blankets; it all felt like she never left, that time stood still the minute she left the cabin to seek a new life elsewhere.
Her father was just right behind her. “How is it?”
“Thanks, father.” She smiled and clutched her old security pillow.
“It’s good to see you back, to see you in the house once more, Iisha. It’s been lonely and I miss you a lot.”
She patted him on the back and laid her head on his shoulder. “I missed you too, I missed this old cabin. Nothing feels like home.”
He patted her in the back. “Come Iisha, I have some warm brew in the kitchen. Tell me about your job.”
They went to the kitchen where she sat upon a wooden stool. Radal poured brew into her cup. He would gather the wild beans, then ground them into a fine brown powder, then brew them over steaming hot water. The scent of the beans would fill the room, and the bitter taste would scintillate her throat. The hot brew and its bittersweet scent was perfect for a cold day.
“You know, father, in the Sajuuk, we have all the chance to study the ancient writings of the Progenitors,” she explained. “The ship is filled with them, filled with its secrets. There is also the case of the other Dreadnaught, and the derelicts in Karos.”
“You sound like you enjoy your job, Iisha. Your mother would have been proud. You took after her, even her profession. She was an archeologist on board the Khontala, the Explorer class vessel I commanded. That was how I met her.”
“Yes, father, I wish you can tell me more about my mother, but you often do not want to speak of her.”
“I’m sorry, Iisha, but it brings out often of bitter memories. Of how I lost her, of how I lost all my ships.”
“Father, one day, you have to settle that, at least settle that inside you. You have to deal what happened and let life continue.”
“I know, Iisha.”
“Maybe times have changed now, and maybe you can be more open to that, father.”
Radal sipped from his cup. He sighed. “I blame them. I blame the Keepers, for what they did to me, did to her, did to the ships.”
“The Keepers?” Iisha raised her eyebrow. “Are you talking about the Keepers as the Progenitor guardians?”
“At that time I did not know what they were,” Radal recalled. “But after the Pride of Hiigara traveled through the Karos graveyard and revived the Dreadnaught, stories traveled fast. What I saw, the destroyer class ships, and the corvettes beyond the Scrapyard Dogs; they were the Keepers and the Movers, the same as in the Karos graveyard. We did not know they were Progenitor derelicts; we saw wrecks but we only thought of them as wrecks. They destroyed my fleet. So many souls lost, to those mindless automatons.”
“Somtaaw Fleet Command thought as I was crazy, blamed me for the loss of my fleet. The Keepers wiped out every trace of their existence from our databanks, but in an act of pure sadism, burned our memories and minds instead to remember every detail of the event and place, to haunt us for the rest of our lives. But Naasha, your mother, she died of radiation poisoning, sparing her from the madness they left me. She died as you were born.”
“That time, no one understood who the Progenitors were, so Somtaaw Fleet Command could not understand. But now through the journeys of the Pride of Hiigara we now know the truth of this ancient race we now call the Progenitors. I can finally understand my faith.”
“They left me with the legacy of madness. To search for the Key and return it to them. I don’t what the Key is…” Radal slumped his head on the table and tears flowed from his eyes. “For all these years, the pain, the memories, the madness…”
Iisha placed her arm at his back to comfort him. “You encountered a Progenitor grave yard?”
“That is what I understand now.” Radal replied. “But no one believed me then.”
“Father, we are talking of a possible new Progenitor graveyard other Karos. Do you know the significance of that? Father I myself am searching for something. This is great. What a coincidence.”
“What is that, Iisha?” He was puzzled with his daughter’s grin.
She began to express herself with wide, grand gestures, as if she was trying to articulate something vast. “Something with my work. Everything is based on rather flimsy evidence now, but I believe there is something out there. A ship, most possibly a large one. A Progenitor ship…not just any Progenitor ship but possibly I believe to be a mother ship class vessel. So what did you see in the graveyard?”
“A large ship? Radal’s eyebrow twitched.
“Yes. I hope you will understand the significance of such a find.”
“Then indeed the gods of fate have smiled upon us to return you to me. I don’t know if this will help you, but follow me.” Radal waved to his finger.
As he moved some furniture, Radal talked. “The Keepers erased our databanks but they enhanced our memories of the place, for some reason that they truly only want us to remember. But only us—me and your mother. As if I was chosen for a purpose. They said I must return the Key.”
“The Key?” Iisha wondered.
“Yes, they called it the Key but I don’t what the Key is.” Radal exposed the carpeting into a trap door. Iisha always knew there was a basement, but thought it was only for storage. She remembered long nights where her father worked inside the basement burning the midnight oil, doing something, but she did not know what, nor did she ever bothered to ask. It must be one of those routine things that didn’t interest her, things that fathers must do but don’t tell.
From the obscure references she found, the Key was something needed to control and start the Keeper of Souls. But nothing described what the Key actually was, or where it was located.
Radal lit a lantern and waved to Iisha as he set the staircase down. “Follow me.”
As she went down, her father spoke. “Your mother and I recorded all what we remembered. We knew we found something valuable, something profoundly important. Our data was erased so we have to commit everything we remembered into paper, drawings and words. And what we remembered, I stored everything here. My notes, your mother’s notes and drawings.”
He rose the lantern, and flickering light became brighter, and the light fell upon the walls. Iisha stared at the walls where papers and drawings hung. There were drawings of ships, depictions of Progenitor writing, all in exactness and detail.
“You were able to do this?” Iisha wondered, her eyes wide open, staggering at the sight of the walls.
“Me and your mother. With unerring clarity, like it was all burned to our souls.” He walked to one of his drawings, and traced the outline of the symbols with his forefinger. “That we must remember, we have to remember… for a purpose.”
“I thought someday they will be useful,” Radal added.
“You bet they would be very useful, father. As a professional linguist specializing in Progenitor language, all these can be very interesting.” Iisha’s eyes followed each drawing and inscription in the wall.
He handed her some dusty books. “These are mine and your mother’s notebooks.”
“My mother?” Iisha stared at the notebook with amazement.
“Yes, she wrote it with her own handwriting before you were born. Well actually while she was pregnant with you.”
“I…uh…” She gasped at amazement. Her mother’s own handwriting! The was as amazing as any Progenitor script. As she turned the pages, it was like meeting someone she never knew but should have. Every twirl and edge in her mother’s handwriting, all spoke about a personality she never knew, and the gap between one generation to another, was passed.
“Thank you father.”
“Don’t mention it. I may have remembered how the script looked, but I sure as hell could not understand them. Since you could, I guess, it must have been destined for you. Take it.”
In the middle of the room, there was something like a board that was covered with a cloth. “What is that?” Iisha pointed to the covered object.
“Oh that? This was something I wanted to show you.” Radal lowered the lantern toward the cloth. “Something I spent a long time figuring out. Carving it out of wood. A hobby I guess, a model. I based it on what I remember, very distinctly. I added more details from our notes. Wallah, amazing, yes?” He pulled out the cloth.
There was a large wooden model—of something. It had a long flat surface, like a board, and there were various protrusions, side to side, and structures that raised from its surface. Must be a hull, Iisha thought. There were more structures on the back, and from what she could see, they looked like engines.
“More or less I say. I would think it’s quite accurate.” Radal snugged his arms to his waist, and smiled proudly. “It took me a long time to finish this.”
There was no doubt about the impeccable quality of her father’s craftsmanship. He knew his wood like he knew his ships and mining. He must have built the model out of the wood from the trees of the nearby forests.
“What do you think, Iisha?”
“Father, this is incredible! You really have a skill for it. This is a ship right? Looks like the hull here, the bridge here, and the engines…”
“Yes I thought it is a ship,” Radal answered.
“This is your hobby, planning a dream ship?” Iisha asked as she examined the ship. “You could be an engineer, you know.”
“No it’s not my design actually,” Radal replied. “ This was something I remembered in the graveyard. That’s why I brought you here. I wanted you to see this. I believe now that this is a Progenitor mothership.”
“You are kidding me!” Iisha walked around the model, bending to examine the details. “If this is true… Can’t be…”
“I compared the Foundry mothership in the Karos graveyard. I compared it to the Dreadnaught. I compared it to the ship Sajuuk. This ship is twice as large as Sajuuk, and one third more than the Foundry ship.” Radal opened a schematic he did comparing the ship lengths and sizes. “Who would have thought what I saw then would be greater than all three ships. But that is not all.”
Radal bent down, then traced his hands to the end of the model. “This is the engines. Now take a look at this. I copied it down exactly.”
Iisha bent and studied the structures that Radal was pointing. “So what is this exactly? I am not very good with ship engineering.”
“See this? Iiisha. Count this. Three of them—one, two, three—three Hyperspace Cores. It was only with the story of the ship Sajuuk that I finally was able to comprehend their full meaning. Sajuuk used three cores to unlock the Eye of Arran. Each of these Cores are larger than the ones in Sajuuk and there are three of them. These two are meant to unlock something. But what?”
Iisha walked around the model. Is this ship true? The cores could be strong enough to unlock the Gate of Karnak. She saw things that were carved along the hull of the ship. Inscriptions that were sculpted in detail and were quite legible. She ran her hand on the set of inscriptions. “Are you sure about these writings? Is this is what you remembered from the Progenitor graveyard you said?”
“Yes, all of these both me and your mother remembered seeing and for some reason, the Keepers burned into our minds. I made sure the model would be an exact copy, right to the scale and the inscriptions. I guess Progenitor handwriting I suppose.”
“You are right, father, this is Progenitor writing. And you did not know what they meant?”
“Of course not, Iisha. I told you I do not understand the inscriptions. I can only copy them. Do you understand what they meant?”
She ran her fingertips on the inscriptions and felt every carved curve and line. “I asked you, father, because the inscriptions say, “Beware, for this is the Keeper of Souls.”“
“And what does it mean for you, Iisha?”
“I was looking for something—a ship, a structure, maybe a person—but I think it is a ship. The One who shall be Last, the Keeper of Souls, He who shall return us to where we came from. Text from an old prophetic passage. One that is destined to be fulfilled in the End Times. The final chapter.”
“And this is what you think is your Keeper of Souls?” Radal raised his back and laid a hand on the model.
She waved her hands in excitement. “Father, if this ship is true, if this model is what you remember it by, then this is the break I’ve been looking for. I can’t believe it that everything is just under my nose, that it is just under our house.” She shook her head and grinned. “This can be my vindication!” She raised a clenched fist in the air.
“Now, father, where did you find this thing. We need to know.” She clutched the lapel of his clothing. “Where we can find Geddon himself…”
“Geddon who? Calm down, calm down, my child.” He placed both his hands on her shoulders and slowly settled her to the chair. “I do not know where this ship is, and where this graveyard is. All I remember is that we were pulled out of hyperspace all of a sudden. This means the graveyard has some very powerful hyperspace inhibitors. I copied all logs from the Khontala so I could trace the routes where the Khontala traveled. I also have the logs from the Daisan science ship so I could trace the route where we suddenly came out from nowhere till we managed to reach civilization. Somewhere where the Khontala disappeared, and the Daisan reappeared, this is where this hidden graveyard is, the Graveyard of Taal-Shiia. That’s what the Keepers called it.”
“Taal-Shiia…” Iisha went into deep thought. “The Bowels of Hell in ancient Taiidan. Many of the ancient languages are deeply influenced by the Progenitor proto-language which was basically spoken all over the Galaxy during the Progenitor eras.”
“Whatever we called it, the gap between the Khontala’s last confrontation with the Vaygr, and our re-emergence in space with only me, your mother inside the Daisan, still covers an enormous space of at least twelve star systems.” Radal emphasized the gap by spreading his hands.
“Which is why I called you here, Iisha, which is to say good bye.”
“You what?” Iisha stood up.
“To find this graveyard, to find vindication for the lives of the crew I’ve lost, to show to Fleet Command that I did not lie about the loss of my fleet, and finally to vindicate my wife—your mother.” Radal clenched his fist and shook it in the air. “And to find closure.”
“Oh I’ve been planning this for years, for many years, as long as your lifetime.”
“But how?” Iisha demanded to know.
“I have plenty of money saved up. I called up a few friends of mine from the Somtaaw Navy and the mining fleets, plus a few from other Kiiths. We combine resources and we got ourselves an old ship.”
“So you have convinced a few people, eh?” Iisha crossed her arms.
“No doubt you can imagine the potential profit, Iisha. Also the potential for fame and history. But the point is, we have to gather enough support for a private expedition. There is no way the Fleet Command will officially approve of this, not on a whim, not on a rumor, not on the dreams of someone they think is a mad man.”
“But it would be dangerous out there. Father, listen to me! You already lost an entire fleet. You got Keepers, Movers and Dogs.”
“And I got years to think about this, Iisha. Don’t think I won’t come prepared.”
“No, father, you can’t go.”
“And why not?” Radal nodded to one side.
“Not unless I’m going with you.” Iisha placed her hands in her waist in a motion of defiance.
“You what?” Radal left his mouth open.
“I said I’m going with you.”
“But it’s dangerous…” Radal flailed his arms widely. “You don’t know what is out there.”
“If its safe for my father, it is safe for me. I’m sure my father prepared for this thoroughly.”
“And if I say no, Iisha?”
“I might have to report this to the proper authorities. You would not want that to happen, do you?”
“No I won’t, Iisha, no I won’t.”
“Then take me along. I have as much as I need to prove here.” She placed her hand on the ship model, then stroked its varnished finish. “If this ship is indeed true. And you will need me. You will need a linguist to decipher all the findings and make sense to all what we see when we find the graveyard. Please, father.”
“Something tells me this is against my better judgement, but alright, you can go.” Radal sighed.