Soul of the Progenitors – Act 5

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Soul of the Progenitors

A Homeworld Fanfiction

by Crobato

Originally posted September 6, 2004 – 12:10AM

Act 5

She sat down on her terminal and launched her encryption software. She addressed the message to Doctor Karan S’jet, private secure channel only. The message went like this:

“Doctor K. S’jet:

Found possible lead of Geddon mothership. Most promising so far. Will leave with a private expedition to investigate. Sorry I can’t tell more, but I will send more data when opportunity arises. But please check the files of my father, Radal, as I will be going with him. May Sajuuk bless our journey.

Iisha Somtaaw.”

She hesitated for a while, wondering if what she was doing was right. Will this be like betraying her father? No, he’s in over his head, trying to take on a Progenitor guardian fleet by himself with some of his friends. He must have a plan of his own if he’s crazy enough to do this, and his battle record speaks for itself in the Somtaaw Fleet annals. But that was against the Taiidan factions, Turanic pirates, Vaygr incursions and whatever unsavory characters the Outer Rim has to offer. He wasn’t able to deal with the Progenitors for the first time around. This was a major question mark.

The original mothership from Kharak encountered great trouble just overcoming the Scrapyard Dogs. The Pride of Hiigara nearly met her end twice at the hands of the Movers, and then the Keepers and the killer drones. The Khontala, a deep space Explorer class mining mothership, did not fare as lucky. Her father would have far less resources at his command this time. But there was a new factor this time, he claimed he will come prepared. He studied his possible opponents, and had years to do to this. But even if her father did his homework, there must still be some fallback, some last resort to call for help…

She pressed the return button.

The letters flashed in the screen. “Send message? Confirm, yes or no?”

Her fingertip caressed the keycap, then she doodled a circle on top of it. “Yes!” She clicked.

She took a deep breath and laid her head back. She turned her chair around to a pile of notes her father had left, some in his handwriting, some in her mother’s. All notes and logs from the Daisan. Many were drawings. Then the model of the Soul Keeper herself lay in the middle of the room.

***

The Tardauskar Station, 40 light years from Hiigara…

The first legs of the trip was uneventful. A passenger ship took them from Hiigara to a well known mining spot in the Aghepa System. There was a huge war scarred station over there. During the Exiles’ Return, Tardauskar was the scene of a major battle between Imperial Taiidan forces and a Kushan fleet known as the6th Manaani Fleet under the command of Admiral Baktet Manaan in his carrier flagship, the Ferin Sha. Armed with only a carrier, an Avatar Heavy Cruiser, several Assault and Ion Beam Frigates, with six squadrons of Bombers and Heavy Corvettes, they were able to turn back a numerically superior Taiidan Imperial 4th fleet under the command of Admiral Rashul Pagdal, which had several destroyers, two carriers, and at least two Qwaar Jet heavy cruisers with twelve fighter wings. The battle was over the rich mining resources of the system. The Manaan fleet played a trick on the Taiidan fleet by refusing engagement, and instead, would hyperjump from one part of the system to another to gather as much mining resources. This inflamed the Taiidan Admiral to split up his forces to hunt down the Manaani fleet. Batket Manaan took advantage of the Taiidan blunder, by engaging and overwhelming each of the separated units, capturing many of the Taiidan destroyers and frigates. By the time Admiral Pagdal realized his mistake, Batket Manaan had hyperjumped the bulk of his fleet and captured ships right into the Imperial admiral’s lap and destroyed the Imperial Saarkin-Cho carrier under a volley of ion beam fire.

A century later, Tardauskar was once again the scene of a battle between Hiigaran forces and the Vaygr. This time, the results for the Hiigarans were not so fortunate. A combined Naabal and Manaan fleet under the command of Admiral Gaaktu Naabal fell under the an auxilliary fleet of the Vaygr Golden Crusade, led by the Il-Khar Batu Sakaan. This time, the Vaygr, with no major capital ships in their disposal, was able to overwhelm what amounted to a major Hiigaran capital ship fleet including one Battlecruiser, and several destroyers, using mainly strike craft, the bulk of home where Missile and Laser Corvettes supported by Assault Craft, Lance Fighters and Bombers. The strike wings were launched from three Vaygr carriers, supported by one Shipyard. It was a major defeat for the Hiigaran forces which led to an immediate weakening of the entire sector, allowing the main Vaygr fleet to punch through the sector. Gaaktu Naabal himself never survived the battle, and miners say his spirit remained out there with the broken pieces of his Battlecruiser, keeping the ghost of Rashul Pagdal in good company.

For these reasons, a major derelict field surrounded Tardauskar Station, the field which for years, provided a major source of income for scavenger ships.

The bleak sun shone through whatever hole the derelicts and the asteroids allowed, flickering from gap to gap, as the passenger ship approached Tardaukar Station.

“We’re here now, Iisha. We’re going to dock soon,” Radal said.

Iisha stared from the windows to the derelict field. She had never been this far from Hiigara before. But for her father she sensed this was but stepping stone, still in the immediate neighborhood of the Hiigaran Central Prefect, the capital areas of the new Hiigaran Empire.

“We’re here now.” Radal stood up and pick up his belongings in the overhead bins.

Iisha took her things from the bins. “So tell me again, why are we here?”

“Time for you to meet my friends and our ship.” Radal whistled merrily along. “Disembarking time.”

She wondered how she ended up carrying his bags and hers, while he ended up shaking hands with old comrades and patting backs.

A burly man slapped Radal in the back. “Hey! When did you get yourself a new woman, eh? Pretty too! Why you old crazy dog, there is still some life in you!”

“Well I…uh…she just happens to be my daughter.” Radal smiled.

“Your daughter! Ha, ha, ha. Sorry haha I should have seen the resemblance. Maybe not…he, he. Maybe she takes to her mother more, he, he…” The man scratched his head nervously. “Congratulations for having a kid, even if this is many years late. It’s not too late is it?”

“Gursal, meet my daughter, Iisha.” Radal waved his hand.

“How do you do?” Gursal the burly man stuck his large hand out.

Iisha dropped the bags down, something she was eager as her arms were getting tired. Her hands was tiny compared to his. “How do you do too. Can someone please help me with the bags?”

“Gursal used to be Tactical officer aboard a Hiigaran Destroyer. He started his career in an old frigate and worked his way up. He will serve as our Tactical.” Radal explained.

“That is an interesting career path,” Iisha replied, as Gursal motioned for some helpers to take the baggage away.

“Let me introduce you to the rest of the bridge crew.” Radal motioned her and pointed to a bunch of people that had gathered. “This is Banaan, he would be doing Communications, and this is Mani Liirhra, who would be doing the Engineering. Mani is one of the few non Somtaaw people here in this group.”

“Nice to meet you, Iisha,” Mani bowed. Banaan bowed too.

Iisha smiled and motioned her hand for people to raise up. “He, he, no need to be so formal. We will soon be one big family here.”

She looked around as if someone was missiong. “So Father, who would be your Science officer then?”

Radal scratched his neck. “Well I didn’t think thoroughly on that part since it is almost impossible to get a good one that can deal with Progenitor material. I had a few candidates in mind but I made a last minute decision to who my science officer will be.”

“And who will that be?” Iisha crossed.

“You, my dear.” Radal uttered as he calmly walked towards the main hanger.

“Me? But what do I know how to operate a ship and its controls?” Iisha protested and waving her arms. “Father, I am speaking to you.”

“Not now, we got a lot of work to do,” came his reply. “You have a few days to master the controls and the instruments.”

“A few days?” She protested again with a louder voice this time. “Look I’m a linguist and an archeologist. I’m a scientist, not a science officer.”

“Sounds good enough for me.” Radal wasn’t even looking at her, and instead was glossing over the reports. “Scientist, science officer, same thing. You want to come, don’t you? You want to share in the discovery, don’t you? Then help us. Earn your keep here.”

Iisha placed both her hands in her waist. “All right, you win. I don’t think I got any other choice. Where is the ship by the way?”

“You’re looking at her,” Radal pointed to an aging, unpainted, heavily scratched and burned hulk sitting in the main square of the hanger.

“What is that thing? It looks like it could barely fly.” Iisha complained as she walked to the side of the hull. With her gloved hand, she caressed the surface of the ship and wiped off some writing painted on the hull. “It looks like Turanic to me.”

“It’s an old Lord class carrier,” Radal explained with a naughty grin. “Very old but good solid ships, been around for more than a couple of hundred years and will stay awhile. Some Raiders refused to swear allegiance and convert to the Vaygr faith. Now that Makaan has fallen, the Vaygr is in partial disarray now, and there is a resurgence of independent Raider pirate activity again. Without a fleet and limited resources, our best defense is to be discreet.”

Radal walked to the hull and slapped his hand on the solid metal. “We found her as a derelict and towed her back to base. Then we proceeded to restore her and add the latest upgrades. We took out the ion beam cannons as they are no longer operable. Instead, we put rails for a couple of cruise missile launchers—remember the kind the Beast once used against us. Only this time, we have a surprise of our own. The warheads are filled with nanites that will infect electronic systems and subvert them, but not biological entities like us. Kind of like the Beast virus but modified. Call it part of an old Somtaaw secret weapon development that was later abandoned, but we old timers know of this for a long time.”

“The ship has probe launchers and in addition to the probes, we made scuttle bombs from the probe cases. We stuffed mining explosives used to blow up asteroids and placed remote control detonators in them.”

“We don’t have enough pilots for fighters, so instead we’re putting Swarmer drones in the ship. Remember the Hive Swarmers? We have tons from the old Hive frigates then. The last of them have long been decommissioned but there are stocks of the Swarmer drone making equipment still around, and inventories of unused Hive Swarmers. We have installed the equipment on board the ship along with stocks of drones.”

“Hold on, father!” Iisha raised her hand in front of Radal’s mouth. “Where did you get all these surplus equipment? Is that illegal?”

Radal and crew laughed. He placed his arm around her shoulder. “You would not want to know.”

Then he clapped his hand. “In addition the swarming equipment, we placed flak turrets along the sides and good old energy cannons in the front. Again, you do not want to know where we got that.”

“The engine and hyperspace module were taken from old Chieftain ore Processors, and there is quite a few of those ships around. No Somtaaw worth his salt are going to be seen using Hiigaran Mobile Refineries.” Radal laughed and his crew laughed with him. “So you see, there is nothing left of the Turanic Raider tech here but the shell. All the stuff inside are of local flavor.”

“For mining, repair, salvage and recovery, we have put some Hiigaran Resource Collectors, with their manufacturing facilities replacing the old Turanic Resource Collectors assembly lines inside the carrier. In our discovery of the ship, we discovered some old Turanic Interceptors, Missile and boarding Corvettes inside the ship all intact and flyable. The assembly lines are still working. We can use them, just in case, like for scouting and exploration. If necessary, it can pound out even a frigate or two, but we cannot spare crews to fly them. We did however discover an old Ion Array Frigate unfinished in the assembly line, probably left there when the ship was abandoned. We converted that ship into a small science ship, with the arrays supplemented by sensor arrays.”

Iisha leaned against the side of the hull. “I see that you made quite a lot of detailed preparations, father. But there is nothing here that convinces me that we can deal with Movers, the Keepers, the dogs and the drones whatever the Progenitors can hatch in surprise. It is highly likely they have things out there we have not yet encountered.”

Radal raised his finger. “Aha, that is the fun part. Remember we said we found out there are Turanic ships left deserted inside the ship? These ships use both cloaking and mimicking equipment, and we found surplus also inside the ship. We have adapted them to work with the whole carrier. We can cloak the carrier, and we can also mimic asteroids and derelicts.”

“Our analysis of the Movers, the Dog and all Progenitor material reveal them all to be robots of some kind that controlled by some source or center. They also draw energy through a radiating field. What we must do is to cut off the communications, cut off their links to whatever, where ever they are drawing their commands and power from. We have installed EMP generators throughout the ship, all formerly Acolyte surplus, and then ECM modules to jam them. If that is not enough, we got a gravwell module placed inside the carrier as well.”

“Our job here is not to fight them, but to stun and confuse them long enough for us to escape. Cloaking and mimic modules will help in our stealth. We are there only to discover and uncover, record information, salvage what we can, and get out of there alive.”

“I don’t know,” Iisha added, her arms crossed around her chest. “Seems like you really have things planned but you know, all this stuff is pretty untried and we don’t know how it will work.”

“That’s why it’s a risk, my dear,” Radal put his arm around her shoulder. “You can come with me or not. You still have a choice now because after this, it will be a point of no return. What will it be?”

Iisha sighed. “Okay father, teach me how to use the science instruments of this thing.”

“Very good, Iisha.” Radal gazed at the ship with his chin proudly raised. “That thing has a name. We named after her after your mother, Naasha.”

***

Aboard the Sajuuk

Karan woke up from her dream. She have dreams when she slept, and she’s used to sleeping in a near upright position only supported by her cubicle. Dreaming reminded her of her humanity, the “Bound” state which the Bentusi disparagingly called, but which she now treasured every memory of it. There she found refuge from Karan the demi-god, Karan the Sajuuk-Khar, Karan the Sa of Hiigara. There were even sects and cults being formed around her calling her the Great Mother of the New Empire, thinking that through her the old glorious Hiigaran empire would arise again, never mind repeating the old abuses that brought the old Empire to its fate. Not in her watch will an oppressive empire rise again, Hiigaran or otherwise.

But in her dreams, she was back to being plain old Karan again, Karan the little girl, Karan the student, Karan the struggling scientist, Karan back in the old homestead in Kharak long before the planetscape was burned to the ground. The new people of Hiigara would never remember. She was the only Kharakian left; the last who was born from Kharak and traveled with the first Mothership had long died. When that happened, her last link to a part of her humanity, her past, was also gone forever.

But this dream, this was different. This time, the dream was disturbing.

Sajuuk came to her in a dream. He was not a ship, or a god, but a man wearing woolen clothes. Inside the dream, he spoke to her. “When the End has come, we shall depart. We will leave you.”

“Where are you going?” Karan asked in the dream.

“Somewhere where we all came from. We must return.” Sajuuk answered.

“Why must you leave? We all need you,” Karan told him.

“The time has come that we are no longer needed here. Our children has grown. Our time here in this world has long passed and a new age has dawned that we have no part. We will only be on your way. Our leaving has long been foretold and must be fulfilled. It is time for us that we must find our own peace.”

“I too must leave along with my people.” With those closing words, the image of Sajuuk faded and she woke up.

The attendants rushed to her. For a moment she has forgotten that her heartbeat and body functions continued to be monitored even as she slept. They must have detected a raise in heart beat and blood pressure and must have been alarmed.

“Sajuuk-Khar! Hiigara-Sa! We came here as soon as we heard of your condition. What has happened?”

“Nothing, nothing.” Karan raised her hand. This must be a message of some kind, a revelation from Sajuuk. Whatever it was, no Hiigaran was prepared to hear it. “Just prepare to give me a wash.” Taking a bath was nigh impossible with all the cables and tubes hooked to her, so attendants had to handle her sanitary needs.

She felt relieved as the attendants cleansed her with a warm moist cloth. First they rubbed her with antiseptics to cleanse her skin from bacteria and other parasites. Then they rubbed conditioners all over her skin, to keep her skin moist and supple, so that it may not dry from the dry air of the ship. They would massage her skin and muscle, to improve her blood circulation and prevent her muscles from atrophying. When it was through, they would dress her with a robe to hide her nakedness, so that she may look decent and formal enough to receive important guests and dignitaries. She wondered at times, if she was destined to live the rest of her life as a cable fed figurehead.

While they massaged her, she took the time to run a checkup on the ship and the data banks with her neural circuitry still tied to the ship’s memory core.

Hmm… A message from Iisha Somtaaw, the new junior linguist she hired to do Progenitor research. The young girl was taking a leave, taking a journey somewhere to pursue a lead. That was good, so the junior researcher was doing this on her own initiative. She cannot waste the resources of an entire fleet for a wild chase looking for some assumed ship. If Iisha could dig up more evidence, maybe as she can commit to a more direct exploratory action. Encounters against the Progenitor care keeper ships had cost Hiigaran ships heavily in the past in terms of both life and material toll. Iisha mentioned that her father was named Radal…the name seemed familiar.

She could sense through the ship’s sensors that a group of men were coming her way to her personal chambers, all in military uniform. She asked the attendants. “Am I due for an appointment with Hiigaran Fleet officers?”

“No, Sajuuk-Khar. We are not aware of any appointment. If so, we would have arranged it after your daily bath and conditioning period.”

“I thought so, but this has not stopped from a cadre of officers coming my way. Dress me up quickly.” Karan ordered and stretched her arms. The attendants quickly placed the ceremonial robes around her.

The door slid open, and the officers came marching in lockstep, their arms carrying their hats.

“May I ask for the reasons of this interruption, my dear officers? May I be of help to you?” Karan asked.

One approached her and bowed. “Sajuuk-Khar, Sa of Hiigara, we apologize for any interruption and discomfort that may arise. But we have an emergency and your attention is needed in the command center.”

“What sort of emergency is this?” She asked.

“Our recons have spotted significant Vaygr fleet movement and redeployment.” He promptly answered.

“Meet me there then.” She called to her attendants. “Disconnect my tubes now and prepare the interface tubes in the command center. Hurry!”

“Right away, Sajuuk-Khar!”

***

A special elevator brought Karan down from her private chambers to the control room and two of the attendants softly grabbed her arm and led her to the central console. Hurriedly, other attendants quickly reinstalled her neuro-circuitry interface cables back to her head, of which a separate set was available in the command center for her use.

At least three admirals were in the command center, so this was not good. “Advise me of the situation,” Karan ordered.

The first admiral stepped forward and activated the holograms, showing the border between Outer and Inner Rim space. Much of the Inner Rim lay with Hiigara and her allies, ranging from different races to Taiidan factions who refused to be converted to the Vaygr faith. The Outer Rim however, remained much in the control of the Vaygr overlords even after the fall of Makaan, and was often called the Vaygr Dominion, although it was not the name the Vaygr themselves would use.

“Our recon patrols and probe matrix have detected movement of the Vaygr Red Crusade forces, including their flagship, the Batu. Our matrix have also detected movement of the following Vaygr forces, the Golden Crusade in the Tabur-Saa region; the Silver Crusade in the Arjun region; the Black Crusade in the Amaan region; the Crescent Crusade in the Tarim region, and the Shining Crusade in the Kardish region.”

“Since the temporary end of our war with the Vaygr, we have an uneasy truce, but we have yet to detect any simultaneous movement of the major Crusade fleets until now.”

“Have the Vaygr ever chosen a united leader since the fall of Makaan?” Karan asked.

“Yes, Sajuuk-Khar. His name is Taklan, Il-Khar of the Vaygr Red Crusade, also known as the Blood Crusade, named so because of its reputation for blood thirstiness. He has been recently chosen as the Vaygr-Khar.”

“So they are united again under a single leader. That alone is cause for concern. So where are they headed? Are we in the Inner Rim facing any threat from this sudden redeployment?” Karan asked.

“From the hyperspace jump signatures, especially that of the Red Crusade fleet, we can extrapolate the journeys.” The admiral took a pointing stick and began mapping out the routes. “Here, here and here. The fleets appear to be headed to a convergence point in the Tigris region.”

“Isn’t the Tigris, formerly a distant province of the old Taiidan Empire?” Karan asked. “That is not anywhere near our territory. And yet any major Vaygr fleet movement cannot be ignored. Any theory or explanation as to the movement? What value is there in the Tigris?”

“If I may contribute,” the second admiral interrupted. “The Tigris is not well known for habitation. There are only a few habitable planets and colonies within the sector. It is a grey area, neither Outer Rim nor Inner Rim, but both the Vaygr and Hiigara dominions have claims over the territory. Legend has it that the Tigris is infamous for its disappearing triangle.”

“Disappearing triangle?” Karan asked.

“Yes, tales of ships of all races that went missing.” The second admiral replied. “It is a place with a lot of local legends, which can be disregarded as folktales.”

“Such as?” Karan asked again.

“Graveyards of ancient ships. But there is no proof of that. As far as we know, Karos has been the biggest depository of derelicts so far. Tigris is pretty unknown even to our side, and like I said, the Taiidan Empire treated it like backwaters. A very backwater region. We have no record of any Hiigaran who ever explored that area, except for one Somtaaw mining expedition under the command of Radal Somtaaw. The expedition was a total failure; all ships were lost with no survivors except for Radal Somtaaw and his daughter.”

“Radal Somtaaw?” Karan perked up her ears. This sounded a familiar. Was this a strange coincidence? “Is any chance his daughter would have name like Iisha, would he?”

The admiral leafed through his notes and came out with an answer several seconds later. “Yes, how do you know?”

“Not important. Tell me more about this expedition?” Karan bent her head and crossed her arms around her chest.

“I do not see the importance of Radal’s expedition with the present Vaygr fleet movement.” The admiral resented.

“Who knows? Tell me, Admiral. That is an order by your Sajuuk-Khar.” Karan insisted.

“If you insist, Sajuuk-Khar.” He leafed through his notes again. “I’m afraid I don’t have much data, except that the Somtaaw fleet managed to engage waves of Vaygr opposition, considering that at that time, during the Dust Wars, the Vaygr had begun their crusades into the Inner Rim. The Tigris was in the midst of a full scale invasion of the Crescent Crusade. Radal Somtaaw was a distinguished commander in charge of the Khontala, an Explorer class mining ship like the Kun-laan and the Fal-Corum during the Beast Wars. The loss of an entire Explorer class vessel along with an Archangel Dreadnaught was a heavy blow to the Beast Slayer kiith and it is believed the fleet was unable to withstand the Vaygr onslaught, losing all hands and ships in a hopelessly outnumbered but gallant battle.”

“Yet Radal Somtaaw in his testimony insisted that the fleet was lost against derelict entities. We dismissed his claims as that of a man suffering extreme mental trauma and stress. It is unfortunate that not only was his fleet and crew lost, but his wife as well. He never returned to active service.”

“That is most interesting.” Karan answered. “I will study his files later. But for now, it looks like we have a threat we cannot ignore.”

“Admiral Nibal Paktu. Maintain continued and vigilant surveillance of all Vaygr Crusade fleets. We need to know precisely where they are going.”

“In the meantime, all fleets will now be in yellow alert. All shore leave will be suspended.” Karan ordered.

“Yes, Sajuuk-Khar.” All the officers replied.

“What is the status of the Pride of Hiigara?” Karan asked.

“As you have ordered, her restoration is going to plan. She can be fully operational within a few days. She cannot jump as far without the Far Jumper cores in the Sajuuk, as we have installed a shipyard class hyperspace module as a substitute.”

“That would be fine, Admiral Dukat. What about restoration and repairs of our newly christened Progenitor Dreadnaught, the Kharak?”

“She will be operational in a few days.”

“Excellent, Admiral.” Karan paused and took a deep breath. Then she began to elaborate her plan. “What ever is happening we cannot ignore. We will set up a task force. Fleet One will comprise of the Sajuuk, the Kharak, the Pride of Hiigara, the Shipyard S’jet, backed by elements of Fleets Somtaaw and S’jet. We will deploy to the farthest corner of our dominion within the Inner Rim closest to the Tigris sector. That will be the Kardishpar sector over here.”

“Fleet Naabal and Fleet Liirhra will be in charge of the Hiigara Homeworld defense and that of the proximity sector. Fleet Soban will be in charge of the defense of the Corinth perimeter. Fleet Paktu will be in charge of defense of the Aradal Sector. Fleet Kaalel will be in charge of the Sarum sector, and Fleet Manaan of the Kuura sector. These areas represent the most populous and industrially most vibrant sectors of our dominion. Any attack on these sectors will be regarded as grave as an attack against Hiigara itself. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Sajuuk-Khar. All Hail Sajuuk!” They all bowed in unison.

Note: This comment was left by the author after receiving several comments about the ARK; people could not conceptualize how the ship looked, so he offered this in response.

“I don’t have any website and my scanner is broken.

But it should go like this. The top part of the ship is flat like an ironing board, and so are the contours, with a taper on the end. Large diagonal stripe running across it, with borders. Yes, it looks like a giant aircraft carrier. The bottom has all sorts of structures on it, like an unfinished construction project, with many girders and beams protruding. The engines are on the tail end of the ship, with four large round nozzles in a square configuration, with two smaller nozzles on each side. 3/4ths down across the length from the front, you have three large hyperspace cores in an interlocked pattern. The ship has a slab like monolithic appearance, and inspired from the background megaliths and the Foundry relic in Karos.”

Act 4 | Landing Page | Act 6

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