Soul of the Progenitors – Act 15

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Soul of the Progenitors

A Homeworld Fanfiction

by Crobato

Originally posted November 18, 2004 – 12:57AM

Act 15

Aboard the Kun-laan II, Ogaab System, Tarim Sector

Driven by orders from the Sajuuk-Khar herself, the Beastslayer Task Force entered a realm no other Hiigaran or Somtaaw has entered, except for one other man, the man he was assigned to pursuing—Radal Somtaaw. Only the Beastslayers, with their long experience in deep space exploration and sensor expertise, could dare thread the unknown like no other Hiigaran can.

Senior Captain Toulan Somtaaw reviewed the file he was pursuing, Radal Somtaaw, Task Force Commander, Retired. Leading a full mothership class Explorer ship, former Senior Captain Radal Somtaaw had the effective powers of a Admiral, with five bars to his credit. Under Article 08, Section 13 of the Hiigaran Fleet Command Regulation Handbook, in the absence of an Admiral, Kiith-Sa, or the Hiigara-Sa, the Captain of a larger, and more tactical capable vessel would outrank the Captain of a smaller vessel and would have seniority and command jurisdiction. The Handbook was adopted by all Kiithid fleets including the Somtaaw. The command structure among the Captains would be in the order of Mothership, Dreadnaught, Shipyard, Battlecruiser, Carrier, Heavy Cruiser, Destroyer, Mobile Refineries, Frigates. All strike craft would be subordinate to the Carrier, Shipyard, or Mothership of origin. The so called Somtaaw Arch-Angel class, which originally used the name Dreadnaughts, were re-classed technically as Heavy Cruisers although the name Dreadnaughts remained popularly used to label them.

Toulan viewed his situation with deep irony. Radal was one of his idols. He was but a junior Captain of a Bishop class Pulsar Frigate—a much more evolved form of the old Deacon frigate fitted with rapid firing pulsars—when he attended one of the lectures hosted in the Naval Academy. Radal Somtaaw was the lecturer, an officer with a brilliant record combating Taiidan Imperialists, Raider pirates and had even engaged the new threat rising from the Eastern Fringes, the Vaygr. The lecture was about tactics, and Radal loved the unconventional, the bold and the daring. “You don’t win by playing the same rules over and over again,” Radal said. Radal was already a senior Captain of a Carrier then, and later he would be assigned to command one of the long series of legendary Explorer class ships the Kiithid Somtaaw was famed, the ship being the Khontala, belonging to the IV series.

That rising star fell to the ground like a dead meteor, one day, years later, when Senior Rank Commander Radal returned in nothing but alone in a science ship, with nothing but his child. He had lost everything, his ship, his task force and even his wife. He ranted about things that no one truly believed in and superiors judged him the victim of mental trauma. He continued with the Navy for years to come, serving in advisory positions, training positions, and desk jobs, but everyone knew the end of his career path was inevitable. After Radal retired, he worked for the private sector, with achievements and activities unknown since then.

Whatever Radal did after his retirement, it culminated with the chase of his private ship back to this sector, the sector which Radal claimed to have lost the Khontala.

This time however, instructions from the Sajuuk-Khar herself suggest that Radal’s claims of a vast Progenitor graveyard in this sector may have been true, vindicating Radal. The commands were to find Radal Somtaaw and locate this new graveyard.

The encrypted instructions traveled through the subspace, just before all hell went loose. The subspace network had recently collapsed, with only stray messages. The messages spoke of various ship defections, the activation of a certain Gate, and strange activities in the graveyards. The Sajuuk-Khar and her task force could not be contacted amidst the chaos.

Toulan prepared for the worst. He had ordered all mining modules dismantled. All the ore had been reprocessed and were used to create armor, support, and weapons modules throughout the ship. The Kunlan 2, an Explorer Series VI ship, combined the facilities of a modern Hiigaran shipyard, with science facilities, rare mineral processing facilities, and large cargo holds not present in the other shipyards. She was mainly a peacetime vessel, but with the teeth to protect herself and her fleet. In times of war, she can be converted into a full warship of the mothership class. The rare ores that she had collected in her long journeys was supposed to have been brought to the Homeworld, but now, they have to be either discarded or converted quickly into ships and weapons. Already some new ships were constructed in haste to join the fleet, including a third Arch-Seraphim, an evolved version of the old Arch Angel using the same Bentusi inspired hull, plus a number of covering ships, including Pulsar Frigates and Corvettes. The stored ores had their limits, and Toulan could not build more without stopping to resource a system. But he had no time, the instructions from the Sajuuk-Khar was urgent. The deteriorating situation around them made it further so.

Whatever it was, could be linked with the suspicious activities in this sector. The Kunlan II had long range sensor arrays that can be used to analyze entire solar systems light years away in search for rare minerals and ore. And this, she was putting to good use. The arrays had indicated a frantic level of hyperspace jumps, more conducive to a large scale military operation in the area. The Tarim Sector was in the control of the Vaygr Reaches, and such activities imply that of the Vaygr. With this being in the jurisdiction of one of the most blood thirsty Vaygr factions in reputation, the Crescent Crusade, was more the reason for Toulan to keep his guard up in maximum.

The same arrays had also detected something the Vaygr themselves could not detect—the faint but identifiable emissions of a Somtaaw probe. The probes themselves could emit a low frequency subspace signal that can cover several light years. It was intended to mark mining locations along an entire sector, and provide advance warning from pirate raiders. Neither the Vaygr nor the Turanic Raiders have any access to such probes. Only a Somtaaw. It may not be a Somtaaw ship—intelligence reports suggested that Radal have traveled to this sector in a non Somtaaw ship for use as disguise, but there was no doubt where his crews, technology and assets had their origins.

And so, the trail of mining probes conveniently led the task force from one system to the next, and finally to this system. Brilliant, Toulan thought, as the probes can mark a path out of the sector and Radal may have deliberately left it for that purpose.

There were other troubling emissions too, including some disruption of the space time fabric in the sub atomic level that indicated massive hyperspace inhibitors in the area. The strength of the disruption made Toulan thought that it may be a natural source, like a dark star, or better known as a neutron star.

“Captain.” The words broke him out of his short slumber of a daydream. He tried to hide his fatigue and lack of sleep as he stood up and walked to the console of the officer that addressed him.

“What is it, Lieutenant Hagur?”

“Our long range scanner arrays have detected a new wave of hyperspace signatures, Captain.”

“Race type?”

“Vaygr, Captain.”

Toulan paused. “Just how many of them.”

“It’s got to be a major battle fleet sir. With this many signatures and their intensity, I would say it would encompass many large capital ships.”

“Location?”

“Sir, the location is a new one. It does not appear in our star maps. The location appears to be in the same source as the readings of major hyperspace inhibition.”

Why would they jump to a dark star surrounded with major region of hyperspace disruption?

Toulan called his First Officer. “First Officer Kolar, with your background in quantum physics, what is your further analysis of the hyperspace inhibition.”

“Captain, I don’t think it is natural sir. It appears focused and without any extraneous radiation readings typical of natural sources.:”

“So it’s artificial, even for something this powerful? This is almost something caused by a near collapsed star.”

“Yes sir. And what ever it is, it is a mighty big one to do this sort of readings.”

“And whatever it is, the Vaygr is after it, Lieutenant.” Toulan turned around and faced the crew. There can be no hesitation on his decision next. “Ladies and Gentlemen, whatever is the cause of the hyperspace inhibition, it is an artificial one. If the Vaygr is after it, we cannot let them have it. The consequences of a weapon this powerful is something we cannot afford for the security of our Kiith and our Homeworld. For Somtaaw and Hiigara, we have no choice.”

The bridge crew nodded in agreement.

“Can you get a jump capable fix on the readings, Lieutenant?”

“Already done sir.”

“Very good. Order all strike craft in patrol to dock, and prepare to engage jump drives!”

***

Aboard the Vaygr Mothership Batu, Taal-Shiia System, Tarim Sector

“Scans!” Taklan ordered as quickly as the battle fleet materialized into normal space. He was determined to not to commit the same mistakes as Mogaden did, starting with overconfidence.

“Great Khar! Scans are indicating a multitude of signatures. I believe they are the Ancient ships. Signatures indicate there may be several capital ships.” Agripas replied.

“On screens!” Taklan ordered. The screens greeted his eyes with a murky beige orange sky, and amidst the nebula gases, floated the twisted garbage of huge pieces of ancient metal. The screens shifted to another view, and there it was….

Rows upon rows of ships, the type that Taklan has never seen before, only in briefings and studies. He expected that the ships all belonged to the Ancients, and there shall be no need for discussion further. He had rehearsed and studied this previously and in many times, either with his command staff or just in his mind. He never saw these ships with his own eyes, but he had expectations of what they can do. The sight of them brought a tinge of wonder, in the sight of something so ancient so deeply embedded in myth that they must have touched the face of the Divine once. But he did not have the time for that. Or the emotion. Taklan came here for one purpose.

To get the Ark of the Deliverer.

“Fleet status!” Taklan shouted.

“Great Khar! One hundred percent of our battle fleet is accounted for.” Agripas replied. “All have successfully reentered normal space.”

“Oh Khar! We are detecting a large object further down in the enemy fleet. It appears to be the main source of the hyperspace inhibitor field.”

“Go to visuals and focus on the object.” Taklan ordered.

What he saw made him suddenly stood up. It vaguely looked like a Command Carrier, long, flat and monolithic, but its size was such that two to three Command Carriers can fit on its length. He had never seen the Ark before, or even could guess remotely what it would look like. But the majesty of the ship was unmistakable as to what it really was.

“The Ark…the Ark of the Deliverer of Souls!” Taklan struggled to find the words coming out from his throat.

Agripas interrupted. “We got numbers on the enemy fleet. Even taking account we have joined some ships from the Crescent Crusade into our expedition fleet, we are still outnumbered on a two to one odds.”

Taklan pointed to the screens. “Look there, Captain Agripas, the Ark itself.”

“Yes a mighty ship, truly worthy of our Vaygr-Khar’s command.” Agripas replied. “Great Khar! Our sensors indicate that the ship is active and operational. I repeat the ship is active. Power and sensor systems are online. Signals emanating from the Ark indicate that it can be controlling the Keeper fleet.”

“Thank you, Captain Agripas. Perhaps the Ark is driven by a vast artificial intelligence, the same that is controlling the Keepers, maybe from the Ark itself. Imagine the power of that ship, starting with its ability to inhibit hyperspace in a radius measured in light years; its ability to command the legions of Keepers and Movers. Many more wonders can be discovered once it is in our grasp.”

“The Ark we must capture. All others we can eliminate,” Taklan said. “I want all ships to stand behind the Batu. Cover all flanks, east and west, above and below us. Charge up the Siege Cannon. We will see how the so called Keepers can withstand our sustained bombardment.”

***

Aboard the Ark of Geddon, Taal Shiia System, Tarim Sector

“Oh by the Desert Gods!” Mani exclaimed with an ages old curse that probably dated back to Kharak’s antiquity. “What are we going to do now? A major Vaygr battlefleet is now down on our throats.”

“Don’t worry, with this thing, we can wipe them out of existence!” Gursal proclaimed.

Radal studied the screens in front of him, where rows and rows of the Vaygr ships were laid out. “There,” Radal pointed. “That must be the flagship. A Vaygr Mothership class similar to the one Makaan used. Iisha, enhanced magnification on the ship.”

“Right away.” Iisha kept her eyes on the screen, as the cameras zoomed in.

“It’s a Vaygr Mothership class alright.” Radal scratched his chin. “That must mean we got a major Vaygr celebrity running the fleet, at least an Il-Khar and above. And I think there is something else… Iisha magnify the image on the right side of the Vaygr Mothership. There is something different about it.”

“Magnifying.” Iisha sent out her mental commands to the ship’s optical systems once more.

“There!” Radal pointed to the side of the Mothership. “That barrel like extension. Something I’ve seen before, something very familiar.”

“Holy Gods of Kharak! That is a Siege Cannon!” Gursal pointed with a shaking finger.

“A Siege Cannon! But we thought, we assumed that only Somtaaw had access to such weapons, the last being decommissioned ages ago with the retirement of the original Kun-Laan.” Radal said. “So how can they possess one?”

“The story has it that the Kun-laan recovered the Siege Cannon from a derelict yard. It’s very possible that the Vaygr could have acquired access the same way.” Mani explained.

“It’s irrelevant now, how they got it, by the Prophets!” Radal shouted. “The only fact now is they have one and it is pointed at us.”

“Sir, the Vaygr is redeploying their ships to their flanks,” Gursal interrupted.

“By Sajuuk’s name, they’re going to use the Siege Cannon on us. They’re moving the ships aside to give them a clear shot at us.” Radal paced around the bridge, frantically trying to think of a solution.

“We got energy levels rising in the Vaygr Mothership,” Gursal reminded.

“Iisha!” Radal suddenly blurted out. “If the Siege Cannons are Progenitor in origins, they must have a counter to it. Something like a Repulsor field or some sort of shielding. You must search the ship’s abilities and weaponry quickly for anything like that! And get the Keeper ships away from the line of fire.”

“Right away, father!” Her eyes quickly closed into deep thought. On the screens, the Keeper ships followed their orders, and quickly fell behind the Ark away from the Vaygr fleet. “I’m searching for Repulsor Field, Force Fields or Shields!”

Gursal waved a finger. “Better hurry up! Power levels in the cannon continue to rise. I never heard of the Siege Cannon going up that fast in power. Stories had it that the Somtaaw Siege Cannon took ages to charge.”

“The Vaygr must have figured out a way how to quickly recharge the cannon,” Mani said. “That is not going to look good for us.”

“Searching…” Iisha muttered with her eyes shut. “Searching…”

“We can sic the Movers and the Keepers at them!” Banaan proposed.

“Too late, the Movers have docked into the major ships.” Radal said, now regretting his move. “Even if we order the Keepers to attack through Iisha’s neural link with the ship, it won’t stop the Siege Cannon from firing at us.”

“Then what can we do?” Banaan exasperated.

“Power levels still rising. They can fire within seconds from now,” Gursal informed.

“Iisha!” Radal cried out.

“Searching….Searching….father,” she uttered with her eyes closed.

“By Sajuuk…energy levels have reached critical. It is about to…no…it has fired.” Gursal said.

“Oh by the Gods of Kharak!” Banaan exclaimed as a massive white ball shot out of the cannon on the side of the Vaygr Mothership. “It’s coming!”

“Iisha!” Radal glanced at his daughter.

“Just a few seconds more…nearly there….” Iisha responded.

“Oh…oh…Maybe this giant ship can absorb the impact,” Gursal clasped his hands in prayer at the sight of the brilliant ball of light heading its way. “Five seconds to impact…four…”

“I think I found it.” Iisha answered.

“Three…two…”

Iisha!” Radal braced for impact.

“Got it!” Iisha opened her eyes. “Repulsor field activated!”

***

Aboard the Batu

Taklan gripped his fist in anticipation, as his eyes followed the massive white ball of death headed straight to the Keeper formation. “Prepare to charge for another blast. We will keep blasting till we eliminated the organized opposition.”

Taklan smiled as the ball came ever closer to the Keeper formation, which has spread to the flanks and back of the Ark itself. The cannon blast may damage the Ark but so long as they can capture it, it can be repaired. Some scratches on the prized ship’s hull can be afforded.

“Three seconds to impact,” said Agripas. “Two, One. Impact.”

But before Agripas can finish his last word, the Ark was suddenly covered by a shimmering sphere of light that swiftly projected outwards, encompassing the entire Keeper formation in an instant.

“What the?” Taklan uttered.

The edge of the expanding shimmering sphere caught the brilliant white ball of light, then hurtled it outward away from the Keeper fleet like a leaf blown by the wind. The ball exploded harmlessly away from the formation.

“In the name of our Forebears, what is that!” Taklan shouted, totally upset.

Agripas slammed his fist on the controls. “Repulsor field!”

“What in the name of Vey is a Repulsor field?” Taklan asked, his face bearing his annoyance.

Agripas answered. “If my history served me correctly, something the Taiidans developed long ago, but we never got to obtain all their technologies. The Somtaaw used it on one of their capital ships. Apparently, so did the Ancients.”

Taklan exhaled and took his chair. “Get another charge quickly. We will capture this ship at whatever the cost, Repulsor field or not! The Repulsor weapon we will add to our inventory.”

Agripa’s face look grim however. “Great Khar. I think you need to see this. We are detecting a series of hyperspace signatures right on our rear.”

***

Aboard the Ark of Geddon

“Brilliant!” Banaan laughed as the ball exploded harmlessly, a white shockwave expanding in all directions.

Iisha smiled, as Radal grasped her hand. Her father beamed with the highest approval.

“It’s not over yet, the enemy Mothership is recharging.” Gursal studied his instruments with a worried look on his face. “I say it’s preparing to blast us again.”

“Then we will repulse the blast once more,” Radal said, proudly. “Iisha, arm the Keepers to attack. Set coordinates behind the enemy fleet. Can you work on the jump drives?”

“Yes father, I think I can.”

Radal gazed at the myriad of connections heading to the back of her daughter’s skull. It was a painful sight to see his only child bound to a machine like this with all the ugly braided wires and hoses, and yet, all that has given her a godlike power. With a mere thought or whim, she could control a giant ship and an armada of automatons to do her bidding.

“If we can jump behind the enemy fleet, we can unleash the Movers right behind them. That can cause a lot of havoc in their rear formations!” Radal waved his hands to explain his strategy on air.

“Sir, I don’t think we need to do that,” Gursal interrupted. “Something is happening again. There are hyperspace signatures in the rear of the Vaygr fleet.”

“More Vaygr reinforcements?” Radal asked with a concerned look on his face.

“Negative. The signatures are not Vaygr. They are…ours!” Gursal laughed in joy.

“The reinforcements have arrived!” Banaan shouted.

“How did they find out?” Mani asked.

“I suspect it’s with the probes we left behind. It was kind of an insurance policy.” Radal replied. “Iisha, camera magnification!”

The hyperspace doors shimmered pink and purple. The doors came in all sizes, and ships passed through them. One shimmering door was particularly large, and a huge ship, about as big as any mothership, passed through it. The huge ship appeared built around a central spine, with structures and modules built around this spine.

“The Kun-laan Two!” Radal shouted.

“Yay! It’s not just Hiigaran. It’s our own Kiith too.” Banaan cried. “Now the Beastslayers are going to give the Vaygr some good whacking.”

“Your Kiith you mean. I’m a Liirhra.” Mani corrected.

“Whatever!” Banaan waved his hands.

“Don’t rejoice too quickly. It’s only a small fleet. Hardly enough to match the Vaygr fleet’s number.” Gursal reminded them. “I counted at least the Kun-Laan 2, with three Arch Seraphim, four Destroyers, two Carriers, and an undetermined number of frigates, possibly Bishop class, based on their configurations and energy signatures.”

“But combined with our numbers, we have the advantage over the Vaygr,” Radal added. “Iisha. Do you think we can communicate with the Somtaaw fleet? Hail them.”

“I will try.” Iisha responded.

***

Aboard the Kun-Laan II, Taal Shiia System, Tarim sector

“Where are we?” Captain Toulan shouted as he left his chair.

“We got multiple signatures ahead of us,” cried First Officer Kolar. “At least two fleets ahead of us and a massive derelict yard all around us. Lots of interference.”

“Visuals!” Toulan ordered.

“Cameras are on screen. We got visuals,” said Lieutenant Hagur.

Even the Kun-Laan II was dwarfed by the size of broken fragments of derelicts. “What kind of race could build these things?” Toulan asked. He wondered whether this was indeed Progenitor in origins. What a great archeological find this place would be.

“I don’t think we have time for contemplation. Don’t look now, but we have identified the first fleet as Vaygr,” Kolar answered. “And I bet they are definitely hostile.”

“All hands, battle stations! And what is the other fleet?” Toulan asked.

“I can’t believe it,” Kolar watched his monitors. “It looks like a derelict fleet. Signatures match that of the Keeper fleet that was engaged by the Pride of Hiigara and the Sajuuk-Khar in the Karos Graveyard. And there is something else.”

“What is that, Kolar?”

“We got an energy reading in the center of that fleet. The Keepers are destroyer sized, and some of the derelicts here are about cruiser sized. This one is huge, like two Mothership class vessels placed end to end.”

“Visuals?”

“Right on it, Captain.”

What Toulan saw took his gasp away. “By the holy grace of Sajuuk, what is that?”

“I believe it is the source of the hyperspace inhibition field sir.” Kolar replied.

“It can only be some kind of mothership.” Toulan said.

“And it is functional. Energy readings show an active power system, Captain.”

Hagur interrupted. “Sir, I think we have a problem. We got a massive energy reading from the Vaygr fleet.”

“What kind of energy reading, Lieutenant?”

“Well sir, I remember this from the Academy, Sir, as I just graduated there. This energy reading can only correspond to a Siege Cannon.”

“What is that? How can that be? Lieutenant. Verify the source and magnify.”

“Captain, we got the source of the energy reading. It is a Vaygr Mothership and it is fast rising..”

“A Vaygr Mothership, Lieutenant Hagul? Then this fleet must be led by at least someone with an Il-Khar or higher in rank. Maybe even the Vaygr-Khar himself. Magnify on the Mothership.” Toulan pointed to the small section of the screen which might be the Mothership.

“If I am not mistaken, it looks like a Siege Cannon mounted on the Vaygr Mothership. And they’re turning to face us.” Hagur replied as the image was magnified.

“Holy Gods of Kharak!” Toulan stared agape at the image of the screen.

Act 14 | Landing Page | Act 16

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