Soul of the Progenitors – Act 6

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Soul of the Progenitors

A Homeworld Fanfiction

by Crobato

Originally posted September 8, 2004 – 3:56AM

Act 6

Aboard the Sajuuk

As the great fleet assembled, Karan sent a message through her neuro-circuitry requesting access on Radal Somtaaw’s file. Perhaps there was more detailed information here. It took a few seconds for the database to complete its retrieval.

Ah, as described, the man was described as a distinguished officer in Fleet Somtaaw, probably there was never a Hiigaran that traveled farther from the Home System as much as he did. A great explorer no doubt, until the tragedy that came with his fleet. He was found alone in a science vessel assigned to his fleet, with only his baby in his arms and his dead wife along side. The science vessel, according to records, bore marks and scars from a serious battle. His claims of having encountered a ghost fleet that destroyed the Somtaaw fleet was blamed to emotional trauma and duress. Analysis of the burn marks on board the hull of the Daisan indicated burn marks consistent to Vaygr and Taiidan weapons fire, indicating that the Vaygr fleet that engaged the Somtaaw fleet had Taiidan converts.

There was something else. With a mental command, Karan displayed the Daisan science ship in a large three dimensional hologram. The Daisan was based on an old familiar design to Karan. The first time she saw this class of ship she was on the first Mothership in orbit in Hiigara building the Clee-san. That one brought memories, the Clee-san had the ignominy to be the first ship subverted by the Beast. This class of ship must have some bad luck going for them.

Apparently the Daisan was heavily studied post mortem. Some detail was wrong and she could not figure it out. Karan had learned to trust her intuitions and perceptions; she ordered the Pride of Hiigara built even when the Daiimid, Hiigara’s great Council, decried that the Vaygr threat was not serious and the Vaygr was conquerable with superior Hiigaran technology. How wrong they were.

With commands from her mind, she turned the hologram over and over again. Until…there! It it her. There was unusual markings on the side of the ship, claw like markings embedded in the hull. It’s been a long time she had seen markings like these, but she could not mistake them. No, not after what had caused these markings. She had to dig up some very old records though, fortunately, the memory banks of the original Kharak Mothership are stored in the archives of Fleet Command headquarters in Hiigara.

That took long enough, but there. She brought up the hologram of an old Kushan Assault frigate next to the Daisan science ship. She had not seen an old style Assault Frigate for a long time, and its striking familiarity resurrected old dormant memories of the Exodus to find Hiigara. But this Frigate has something different also. The Junkyard Dogs grabbed the Frigate and towed it for quite some distance before dropping it. When the Frigate was rescued, the marks from the powerful jaws of the Dogs were all over this ship.

Setting the two ships side by side, the Daisan had the same grappled markings and cuts as the Assault Frigate.

“There!” She spoke out. With her fingers she traced the markings. The Daisan had to have encountered the Vaygr and Taiidan in an earlier engagement, only to encounter the Dogs in a previously unknown graveyard. So what this Radal said was entirely true. The Somtaaw Fleet Command could not have noticed this detail—none of them were alive during the great Exodus from Kharak to Hiigara.

She sent this commands to find this Radal. It seemed to be a great coincidence that the new junior linguist working for her would turn out to be his daughter, the same one who was born and survived in this ship. Another interesting thought—Iisha would have been conceived during that journey. Although Hiigaran by blood, she would have been an Offworlder—someone who wasn’t born in Hiigara. It was a term first used to describe those who came from Kharak, separate from the new generation who was born in Hiigara. Nowadays, the term was used who simply was not born in Hiigara, as the Kharaki also absorbed Taiidani living in Hiigara, or sought refuge there, or become immigrants, and were eventually absorbed into the new Hiigaran society, following Kharaki norms, culture and even the Kiithid social structure. That was a reason for the swell up in Hiigara’s population since the Return. Radal’s own bloodline had been mostly pure Somtaaw from Kharak, but one of his ancestors did marry a Taiidani girl, so there was a little mixed blood in him. However, his genetics would have no bearing on his combat records or loyalties. Still, the records were also showing that Iisha was born with anomalies that did not make her a normal baby. All of which was blamed on the stresses of a long space journey, and partly from the racial interbreeding.

The results came back. Radal Somtaaw had left Hiigara along with his daughter to the Tardauskar station. No surprise, that one appeared to be in synch with Iisha’s own message. From the Tardauskar station, Radal left for what he described on the station’s records as a mining and exploration expedition.

Is he…?

***

Aboard the Naasha

Iisha woke up again, sweating. Since the time she met her father again, she started having this series of strange dreams. Was she working to hard, being obsessed with her work, obsessing looking for this alleged graveyard, mythical god and ship? The ship’s quarters ain’t much, so she’s using the science room as her temporary quarters. It was at least roomy and comfortable compared to the other crew quarters—-the Turanics who lived on board survived on the most minimal of needs. There was little luxuries or comfort aboard this ship; the Turanics believed that to live harshly, was to toughen the spirit and the body. Life as a pirate and a Raider was always hard.

The quarters of many Somtaaw ships early after the Exile was not much better though, and the sparse accommodations have become a proud tradition among Somtaaw ships and shipmen. So the sparse Raider style accommodations did not bother them as much as it suited them. It became a symbol of pride for the Somtaaw shipmen, who often refer to the other Kiithid shipmen no worthy than Hiigaran sand bugs.

But the fact that she’s her father’s daughter did not help her one bit. She was not used to living in a ship after all. This was her first time on a long exploratory ship journey, and she never spent time this long from a planet’s surface. Her father and all his shipmates seemed to live and breathe with the adventure of traveling the far and the unknown. She on the other hand, was as timid and miserable as a sand bug.

All that stress was getting to her. The room she stayed was used as a research and laboratory for the Raiders who once lived on this ship. So it had all sorts of unsavory things preserved in glass jars filled with a harsh chemical. The crew never bothered to remove traces of the ship’s former owners. Along with the research from Raiders past, she hanged on the walls all her mother’s and father’s notes, decorating them like wallpaper she saw in the basement of her father’s log cabin.

In the middle of the room, stood the giant model of what everything seemed to revolved around—the mythical Progenitor Mothership known as the Keeper of Souls. Once the initial excitement has gone, and with the long hours of doing nothing in a ship, she had been able to study the ship and the notes much closer.

The long deck of the ship appeared much more distinct now, and her father added a red diagonal band with red borders. Beneath the ship were structures whose purpose her father did not understand, but he carved them anyway. It appeared like the structures beneath the ship were in the progress of construction when something interrupted the work. Sticks representing girders and bars protruded from the lower section. Three quarters down the ship’s length lay the three interlocking Cores, and further down, in the tail end, lay four large round nozzles with two smaller nozzles on each side. Her father took the opportunity to color them a luminescent blue. She could hypothesize, from the size of the ship deck, that it can be used to construct a ship as big as the Sajuuk. A thin grove from the starting point to two thirds of the ship then ending in a perpendicular line that goes across, suggested that the bow of the ship could split into half like a clipper. Once split, the two separated prongs can become like a dock where large ships can be built.

The presence of Movers suggested that these automatons could be maintaining the ship, while the Keepers were guarding it. No doubt that the Keepers were also automatons just as the Dogs were. The Dogs were salvagers who would cannibalize the ships they captured, while the Movers would utilize the parts to keep themselves and the Keepers alive. The experience from Karos indicated that the Progenitor ships function like a robotic hive, likely to be controlled by a center computer. Something, or some ship could be controlling them.

She sighed. She was too obsessed on this, and the thought of the ship just kept growing larger and larger in her mind. She threw a slipper at the model; the same obsession started to make her hate it as well.

She stumbled back to bed and when she lay still, her dreams continued once again.

***

A war raged between Those Believed and those who did not. For eons They were at peace, one with the great cosmos. They traveled from galaxy to galaxy, star after star, from world after world, to teach and preach the Knowledge to the most promising peoples, and with that Knowledge, these peoples, the infant races, would share in the Light, to understand the Divine Scheme of things, the plans, of how things were shaped, and how they were to be. They were born to fulfill the Mission.

But a schism broke out among Themselves. They are those who did not believe in the Divine Scheme, that They, being so great themselves, are the Finality of All, that they are the end result of the Divine Scheme, not the children the Believers sought to inspire and enlighten. These children are the inferior ones, they should not be shown the Light and treated as equals; instead they should be made to serve Them. They chose to betray the Mission.

The schism grew into a heresy, and with the heresy came a War like no one has ever seen before, a war between Those who believed in the Mission, and Those who do not. For the first time, the natural progress of the Divine Scheme was interrupted; Chaos returned and displaced Order. What took millennia to build now threatened to be destroyed. The cosmos shook at their War, and They experienced death, suffering and destruction. The heretics came to be known as the Destroyers for they only brought darkness. They that survived wondered about their fate. Will it end this way? Should They fall to the Destroyers, then there will be darkness like no other. The light will not shine and the Divine Scheme will reverse.

She stood among the huge throng of souls, singing hymns, hymns that will end as soon as the Destroyers found them. But as long as They stayed alive, they will sing. They all sang in praise of the Divine Scheme and the enduring light they spread to this corner of the cosmos. The throng was endless as far as the eye can see. And beyond that, in the great yellow star shone Their might, a mighty fleet with numbers that cannot be counted.

When the Destroyers came with their fleets, the battle was joined. The heavens shook, the fire rained from the cosmos and it was so from star to star, world to world. The wreckage of the great fleets littered throughout the expense. So many of Their souls were lost. The War threatened to engulf Them and destroy Them…

She stood among the throng of souls once again, joined her song with Their song, all inside the deck of the mightiest of all vessels. One will be chosen to save Those that have remained, to stop the darkness from engulfing the flickering light. Our Light must survive or there will be only darkness. Our Knowledge must survive or there will be no enlightenment. We must survive or the Mission will end.

Against the cloud of despair, They made a plan for Their salvation, and One was chosen to deliver that plan. They all sang in praise of the final plan of deliverance.

All hail the Keeper of Souls…

***

She woke as the clock timer went off. Darn, that dream was funny. It was if they were like visions, visions of the things in the past, like they were trying to tell her something. Or it may be just overwork and stress from the new environment. She cannot tell her dreams to anyone or they may think she was deranged and unfit for duty. She cannot do anything that can jeopardize the mission.

She brushed her hair and slipped into her overalls. She hurried to the bridge when the Science Officer’s chair awaited her.

“Look who is late!” Radal’s chair turned around. “If we are to run a tight ship, we cannot allow for tardiness.”

“Sorry father.” She uttered as she played the controls.

“Aboard the bridge, this chair shall be addressed as Captain, and I shall address you as Science, is that understood?”

“Yes, Captain.” With her back turned from him, she made all sorts of ugly faces.

“I heard that!” Radal proclaimed from his chair. “You don’t think that after all these years I know all your bad habits.”

Gursal communicated to her by smiling and raising his thumb up in approval. At least there were some in the crew that can side with her.

With a booming voice, Radal made announcement. “The reason why we are all here is that we are currently in the Ashab sector. This is the border of Hiigaran sovereignty and beyond there lies the unknown, a zone of no man’s land that separates the Inner Rim and the Outer rim. There is no turning back at this point and we can longer guarantee any safety.”

“Are you all with me?”

“Yes Sir!” came the swift reply.

Radal stood up. “Good. When the resource collectors return, we shall prepare for hyperspace. Science, what is the status of the scans?”

Iisha stared at the confusing array of dials, buttons, and switches that made up the Science Officer’s console. The Raiders do not seem to have any taste or order in design and must have simply cobbled the instrument panel without much planning for interface ergonomics. There she found the button for the volume search mode and pressed it. The display screen in front of her turned to the volume search mode and started scanning.

“Science, did you hear me? What is the status?”

“So far everything is clear, except for some debris, Captain.” Iisha sighed.

“Lock on and identify the debris, Science.”

She was searching for the right button again, and there she found it, a little red square button there as big as her thumb that said “High Resolution Target Scan Mode” in Turanic script. She should have spent the time like the others who taped Hiigaran script inscriptions next to the Turanic script along their control buttons. She slewed the Search Mode to focus on the debris and turned on the High Resolution scan mode.

“Science?” Radal waited impatiently.

“Yes Captain, I think I got some results here.”

“You think? In a ship, you don’t think. You either say it or you don’t. In a ship, you cannot afford to have ambiguity. Confusion, slowness, that will cost not only your life but that of your crew members. Is that clear, Science?”

“Yes sir.” She grumbled. “Scans revealed ship debris. Possible remnants of destroyed ships in the past. Ashab sector has been the scene of frequent battles between Hiigaran and Vaygr forces in the last war.”

“That’s good.” Radal’s voice sounded more upbeat now. “One Hiigaran’s junk is another Hiigaran’s life saving resource. Tactical, order all Resource Collectors to harvest all the debris within our vicinity. Science, transfer all coordinates of the debris to the Collectors.”

“Right away, Sir.” Iisha clicked on the buttons.

Radal walked around this time his head facing down in contemplation. “Now that would take a few hours more, but it would give us enough material to feed our Hyperspace jump drives. The next jump and the next ones after that would extend our drives to the limit. And believe me, the Raider jump drives are very good, or they won’t be Raiders. When we are transiting this zone between the Inner and the Outer Rim, we must do so as fast as possible with the biggest leaps. The Vaygr are still hostiles, but that is the least of our problems. Pirate activity is once again on a rise and we do not want to be a target. Is that clear?”

“Yes, Captain.”

“So as we have some time, we are going to keep running drills until we have suitably and proficiently mastered the ship and her controls. If we keep running it like the way we have done up to this point, we are only dead meat to what is out there. I do not want to take the responsibility of losing our lives because we are so sloppy. So unless we have trimmed the way we do our operations, we will not proceed. Is that understood?”

“Yes, Sir!!”

“Do you all want to go and discover the greatest discovery in the century?” Radal proclaimed in the top of his voice.

“Yes, Sir!!”

“Do you all want to be rich bastards? At least something better than the miserable financial state you are in and better than the slum apartment you are living in.”

“Yes, Sir!!”

“Do you all want to leave your mark in history? Your statues along every plaza in every city of Hiigara, your names in every street and every text book in every school.”

“Yes, Sir!!”

“I cannot under emphasize the discovery of this thing here. Our own selfish reasons aside, we are also doing this for Hiigara. Our fellow Hiigarans will not search for this because of their own bureaucracy and ineptness, so we will do it for Hiigara nonetheless. If we don’t get to it first, someone else will, and they can turn that to their advantage and to our disadvantage. Do you all want to help Hiigara?”

“Yes, Sir!!”

“That’s good.” Radal finished. “We are all selfish bastards here, and yet all heroes for Hiigara. I like that in my crew. So let’s drill and rehearse till we have perfection!”

“Yes, Sir!!”

***

His pep talk aside, her father appeared to have gotten the results he wanted. The crew, in drill after drill, began to act like a well oiled machine. She too, was beginning to feel proud of the way she acted. She began to understand the routine by instinct, without being told. It felt enjoyable and fulfilling to work like a team, and began to wonder, yes, this was not bad after all. She began to see all this through her father’s eyes, the comradery of the shipmen, and how everything began to fall into one giant extended family. Maybe it was not the derelict ship that her father really wanted, but to be back in command of a ship in search of a perilous but rewarding journey. She could not remember how long ago when her father smiled like the way he did now, mainly because she never saw her father in action inside a ship. Now she know and she began to see a side of him—a real side of him—that wasn’t there when he was a recluse and raising her on his own. He had a few other mining expeditions after her mother died, but by the time her brain was developed enough to remember all the conscious things that happened around her as a child, her father had given up and decided to live on the funds he earned.

This bridge, this was his real home. He may have been physically living in that log cabin high in the Lusan mountains, but he was never at home. Here, in this ship, he belonged.

“Get all the Collectors inside. We have a full bay now. Prepare for hyperspace jump.” Radal calmly ordered. He had a thoughtful posture as he sat on his chair.

“All Collectors are inside, Captain.”

“Excellent, Tactical.”

Radal looked around at the bridge crew of the Naasha. All eyes were on him as he stood and hesitated, searching for one sign of weakness among his people. But there was none.

“This is Navigation, we have our course plotted to the Nazca system.”

“Excellent, Navigation.” Radal walked to his seat and sat. He tightened his old uniform, the Somtaaw Fleet uniform he has not worn in years but kept on his closet and talked only about it with visitors.

“For the Shimmering Path!” Radal proclaimed, the title for an old Somtaaw marching song.

“For the Shimmering Path!” came the crew’s reply.

Radal raised his finger. “Jump!”

Like a shimmering doorway, the hyperspace porthole appeared in front of them and swept the entire ship’s length.

***

All hail the Keeper of Souls…

But the Plan of Deliverance was not to be. For the Destroyers found the last of the Believers, and sent the fleet to Their refuge.

In one mighty host, the last of Their fleet faced the Destroyers in one final battle.

The multitudes of ships darkened the sun. There was no battle like this that ever came before, nor will ever come after.

The ships died in the hundreds, and then in the thousands. All Their remains and that of the Destroyers filled the expense.

She sang with the multitudes, their voices glorifying the Divine Scheme and Mission all in unity, as death and fired rained above them. Even as They died, They sang. No one staggered under the face of death and no one feared. For They all lived and died for the Mission.

She sang as They fell under the relentless fire and onslaught of the Destroyers. They all called Geddon’s name for deliverance. Under the face of the great Defilation, They stood with Their faith, singing praises.

When death struck her body, there was shearing and burning pain. But even as life drained away from her blood soaked body, she stood, as They stood. And They sang. With the last of her energies life, she poured it into her voice and she raised her arms in praise and glory of the Divine Scheme and of Their Mission. There was bodies and blood all around her, but the Mission will not fail, and she sang with the top of her voice and on her feet with her arms outstretched in prayer, till the Darkness came.

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