Soul of the Progenitors – Act 16

Act 15 | Landing Page | Act 17

Soul of the Progenitors

A Homeworld Fanfiction

by Crobato

Originally posted November 24, 2004 – 3:20AM

Act 16

Two hours before, aboard the Carrier Kharenin, Sulaak System, Obot Sector

The hours had worn on Admiral Sanin Soban as he called the staff to the war room of the Carrier. The last few hours had been tumultous as the subspace communication network has collapsed for unknown reasons, and only garbled messages have come through the channels.

The 33rd Task Force of Fleet Soban had an inventory of one Carrier, one Battlecruiser, four Destroyers and two dozen frigates equally distributed for Flak, Torpedo and Marine duties. Since the collapse of the network, the Task Force has entered Code Orange, implying a high readiness of alert in preparation for possible war. It would take a word from the Sajuuk-Khar or the High Council of Kiiths of Hiigara to shift the status alert into Code Red, which meant complete war. But the collapse of the network meant that obtaining direct communication would be difficult. Already among the crew, there was talk of war again with the Vaygr, and that the Vaygr has launched a surprise attack that paralyzed the communication network.

The 33rd had been assigned to patrol the border between the Hiigaran sovereignty space and the Vaygr Reaches. With Code Orange, this made the job more urgent, with all deep space listening and scanning arrays pointed to the direction of Vaygr space.

The signals they received did not dispel their fears.

As they gathered in the war room of the Kharenin, Captain Kadeth Soban was the first to disclose what they all feared.

“We have intercepted encrypted messages that we have identified as coming from the Vaygr. Upon decryption, the messages told of us of one thing—that the Vaygr forces in this entire sector are under high alert. The forces here are under the command of the Golden Crusade. The messages we have intercepted detailed that one Vaygr task force are in the move, attempting to intercept a second one that originated deep within the Reaches.”

“Intercept?” Sanin asked. “So all this commotion have nothing to do with us really?”

“No sir, apparently so.” Kadeth clarified. “It looks more like they’re trying to stop something coming out.”

“Captain Kadeth. What is this thing the Vaygr are trying to prevent?”

“I have no idea sir. Whatever they’re trying to intercept, they managed to obtain an intersection point in the Basal system, over here.” Kadeth drew a line to a point in the holographic star map floating in the middle of the table.”

“That’s not far from our borders, Captain.”

“Certainly not, Admiral. If you see the path lines this force is trying to travel, you can see it’s headed to Hiigaran space.”

“And the Vaygr is trying to stop whatever is coming out from their jurisdiction space, Captain.”

“Yes sir. Maybe the Vaygr is not ready to provoke a war with us yet. Or whatever this thing they’re trying to stop, the fact that at least an entire Vaygr task force was called implied that force, this thing must have caused serious damage, and the Vaygr were summoning reinforcements to help. And that is not all sir. We have obtained audio signals carried by subspace from the Basal system that indicated an engagement has taken place. The signals were part of the subspace feed that was calling for help. From our long range listening arrays, we have fleet sized hyperspace signatures that came into the Basal system first. This was followed by a series of hyperspace signatures indicating that another force has entered the system. The we obtained this series of subspace signals.”

“Play the signals, Captain.” Sanin ordered.

“Right away, Admiral.” Kadeth affirmed. Whatever he played were full of the screams of the dying.

“From what I can gather, there was total panic. Ships were being destroyed, crews totally annihilated. I cannot make out of the transmission, but what is clear, amidst the calls of help, is the sound of people dying. The signals are identified to have come from the Vaygr Carrier named the Tigris, which intelligence has identified as the flagship belonging to the 89th Task Force of the Golden Crusade.”

Sanin raised his hand and signaled Kadeth to stop paying the audio feed. Even he had not have the stomach to hear the blood curdling screams of a ship’s crew dying. “That is an entire Vaygr task force. An entire task force.”

“Yes, Admiral.”

Sanin addressed the staff gathered inside the War Room. “We can either run away, or we can confront this. If we fail to confront this potential danger before it reaches our homespace, then we would have lost the right to call ourselves Hiigarans and return home, knowing we did not do our duty. We have no choice but to address this danger no matter how great it is.”

The staff nodded in acknowledgment.

Kadeth laid some more notes on the table. “The system in question, the Basal system, is part of the neutral treaty zone drawn up in the temporary truce agreement between the Vaygr and Hiigara. A Vaygr intervention in the zone is justification for an investigation.”

The Admiral straightened his back. “We must head to the Basal system at once. The sooner we get there, the sooner we can catch the perpetrators fresh in the act and find out what is behind all this.”

***

Aboard the Carrier Kharenin, Basal System, Obot Sector

As soon as the Kharenin hyperspaced out into normal space, the view screens were filled with images of broken pieces of metal and ship. Debris was all over space. Admiral Sanin ordered full battle stations. The support fleet quickly assembled a protective formation around the carrier, with the Battlecruiser in front, two destroyers each along the flanks, and the support fleet to the rear. Two Flak Frigates advanced to lend covering fire for the Battlecruiser, while four Flak Frigates each kept close proximity with the carrier.

“There are still heat from the debris. Lots of fresh radiation, indicating that the battle had only just finished.” Officer Kadeth reported. “The metal composition and radiation emissions all indicate that the ships were Vaygr.”

“Who could have done this? It cannot certainly be Hiigaran, since we are the only Hiigarans in this sector.”

Kadeth answered the Admiral. “Whoever did this may still be in the system. We have not detected any hyperspace jump indicating that the perpetrators have left the system.”

“Prepare to deploy all scout, fighter and strike wings at once, Captain. I want them patrolling the area.”

“Right away, Admiral.” Kadeth raised the volume of his intercom. “Bravo, Charlie and Foxtrot Scout Wings, launch immediately. Alpha, Kappa, and Sigma Interceptor wings all prepare to launch. Beta, Gamma, and Epsilon Bomber wings, prepare to be launched next. Delta, Zeta and Phi Corvette wings, prepare for launching.”

From the intercoms came the hissing, static filled reply. “This is Bravo leader, we have launched.

Sanin grabbed the microphone. “Thank you, Bravo leader. This is Fleet Control. Begin Delta search pattern.”

“Right away, Fleet Control.” The response came crisp, as the Scouts banked away in effortless formation. Bravo Scout wing was the first to be given the mission orders, but as other wings launched, the same orders were handed to them, each to patrol a different area.

It became all too quiet, as the tense minutes went by. Sanin eyed at the destruction and debris outside of the Kharenin’s windows as he paced the bridge.

Then a static filled voice came breaking the uneasy silence. “This is Bravo Leader, I think we have something. Something big—-immense—as a matter of fact. I am downloading the video feed.”

“Thank you, Bravo Leader and be careful. Maintain your distance from the sighting.” Sanin replied.

Sanin turned to Kadeth. “Captain, play the feed.”

Kadeth acknowledged, pressing a series of buttons in one of the panels.

“By Sajuuk’s merciful hand…” Sanin exclaimed. The image showed something that was more a living creature than a ship, with five large arms grasping what appeared to be the wreckage of a ship held tightly between the ends of each arm. There was something like an eye in the center body, and a beam emanated from that all encompassing eye, vaporizing the wreckage. As the wreckage vaporized, the gasses were sucked into the center body.

During his younger days, Sanin lead an Interceptor wing over the Battle of Hiigara and had seen these creatures close up from the cockpit of his small craft.

“Planet Killer!” Sanin gasped.

“It looks like it’s eating the ship, kind of like crystal processing,” Kadeth added. The camera aboard the scout began panning th view. “Look, there is more of them, each consuming wreckage for resources.” Kadeth pointed the screen.

“I see that. Bravo Leader, return to Mission Control at once. I repeat return to Mission Control at once. All wings return to Mission Control at once,” Sanin ordered.

“What are we going to do now?” Kadeth asked.

“Get out of here Captain, and warn the entire Hiigaran fleet. If these Planet Killers have just destroyed the Vaygr and are consuming them, then they are no longer in the control of the Vaygr and free to what they wished. Once they are through this zone, they may head to Hiigaran space to wreak their havoc. Prepare to broadcast to our Fleet. Make sure this is known in both the Fleet channels and the public channels. Hiigara must be warned. We will hyperspace as soon as all strike wings have docked.”

The static filled voice of Bravo Leader suddenly interrupted all of them. “Sir—I think—What?—No—Ack!!” Only static followed.

Kadeth stared grimly at Sanin, while the Communications Officer have begun broadcasting.

Sanin took the microphone and began calling. “Bravo Leader, Bravo Leader…are you there? Anyone in Bravo Wing?”

“Neg, we’re not getting a response from any ship in Bravo Wing,” Kadeth replied. “Sir, we may have to hyperspace without docking our strike crews.”

Sanin stared at Kadeth. “I will not abandon any soldier under my command, Captain.”

“Sir, we are ready to sacrifice the few for the good of the entire whole. If I were in any of the wings, I would understand, especially with a threat so close to Hiigaran borders like this.” Kadeth explained with a grim face.

Sanin frowned, exasperated with the decision he would be forced to make. “Prepare to emergency hyperspace jump out of this system. Hurry!”

A few steely seconds passed, moments that appeared like forever. Sanin kept his eyes fixed at the wreckage from his window, pondering at the painful struggle deep within his conscience about abandoning his strike crews.

“Sir,” Kadeth interrupted that steely silence. “We have a problem.”

“What?” Sanin turned to Kadeth and the bridge crew.

“We can’t jump. I think there are hyperspace field inhibitors—-“ Kadeth never finished his sentence when the sensors officer interrupted him in return.

“Captain, sir..Admiral… Something is hyper spacing right above us!”

“What?” Sanin shouted.

“Sir, not just what, but many. They all hyper spaced right above us. We are detecting rising energy levels.”

“Visuals!”

“Yes Admiral!”

The view screens displayed the sight of a massive five armed monster, the space around the center eye crackling, as if drawing energy from the very vacuum. Then the darkness was forever shattered by the blinding beam of light that shot from the all seeing eye.

Sanin never had a moment of time to scream when everything around him turned blinding white.

***

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

“Enemy Siege Cannon powering up!” Hagul reported.

Toulan had to think fast. There must be a counter to this weapon, which the Somtaaw themselves have used decades before. But lacking the technology to reproduce the cannon, the Siege Cannon eventually died when the Beast Slayer shp, the Kun-Laan, was retired.

Then he remembered a story about the Kun-Laan itself. Armed with the cannon, it attempted to engage the Taiidan Nomad Moon which fell under the control of the Beast. Every time the cannon was fired, the Nomad Moon deflected the blast with a Repulsor field wave, a technology that was itself copied by the Somtaaw into their Arch-Angel dreadnaughts.

That’s it! Every Somtaaw Dreadnaught still contains the Repulsor weapon to this very day, even though the rest of the Hiigaran Kiithid refused to adopt it citing reasons of impracticality. Constantly facing pirates in deep space unlike the other Kiithid, the Somtaaw had greater use of the weapon than their brethren.

“Order all three Arch-Seraphims to take twelve o’clock, ten o’clock and two o’clock positions ahead of the Kun-Laan Two and the formation. Tell them to arm the Repulsor field waves, to be fired on my mark!”

“Aye, sir!” Hagul replied.

“You’re not thinking of using the Repulsors to repel the blast, aren’t you?” His First Officer Kolar asked. “You and I have no experience in countering this Siege Cannon, which has never been encountered again since the retirement of the Kun-Laan.”

“Yes, I am, Kolar, yes, I am. It is time to see if the old story about the Nomad Moon is true.”

Alarms went out, indicating that sensors have detected a massive energy release. “The enemy siege cannon has fired. We have ten seconds before the blast reaches its proximity radius with our fleet.”

“Get our frigates right back to the rear of our fleet and away from the blast possible.” Toulan ordered. “Are the Dreadnaughts in position?’

“Aye sir.” Kolar replied.

“Five seconds before proximity impact!’ Hagur broadcasted.

Toulan began to count the time in his mind. Four seconds…three

“Fire all Repulsors!”

Toulan watched the screen in horror as the glowing ball rushed towards his ship. Then as the ball loomed larger, something grabbed the ball like an immense desert wind storm that would grab a shrub and blew it away.

Toulan slammed his fist on the table. “Yes!”

“Sir, we are not out of it yet,” Kolar said. “They can still directly attack us with their strike craft. We are currently outnumbered by a potential five to one on strike craft based on their observed enemy carrier and mothership complement.”

“Yes, but they’re between the Keeper fleet and us. They can’t defend or attack in both directions at once, Kolar.”

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

Taklan grit his teeth. That supposed wonder weapon the Ancients have given them, that Siege Cannon, have turned from unabashed success to humiliatingly useless. Twice it was repelled by the same type of weapon. When he meets with the shipyard engineers, he will not make the same mistake as his forebears did neglecting the potential of such a weapon. He should have his own Repulsors, even if he has to pry it from the dead ships of the Somtaaw—which he will have the utmost pleasure of doing.

The odds against his fleet do look great now, with the Beastslayers in one end, and the Keepers in the other. But no matter, despite being squeezed between two forces, decisive victory remained possible if one can overwhelm the weaker fleet with the quick overwhelming strike attack the Vaygr were most feared for.

“Order all strike craft to de—“ Taklan was suddenly interrupted by Captain Agripas suddenly kneeling well down before him.

“Forgve me, Vaygr-Khar for your interruption,” Agripas supplicated himself even lower. “I do not know how to tell you this, but we have terrible news coming from the home front.”

“Can it wait, Captain? We are in the eve of a glorious victory here, one that all Vaygr balladeer will sing in the ages to come. We can capture the great Ark, regardless of this Repulsor weapon our opponents have, and the Ark will serve in the cause of our glorious Empire.”

“Sir, we have just received word.” Agripas said again grimly. “Sir, the Shivakan, they have all awakened, and have broken out from the recovery sites. We have counted at least three other Shivakan forces that have emerged from their resting places.”

“What?” Taklan stared at Agripas fiercely. “What of the Order of the Messengers?”

“Their Temple and station have all been destroyed, great Khar. The Order has been completely wiped out except for survivors that were not in the station or in the site.”

“And the other ships, the guardians, the patrols, the service ships?”

“All destroyed, Vaygr-Khar, all destroyed. In addition the task forces sent out to intercept the Shivakan have all been destroyed within our space. The lives lost can be measured in the thousands of our brothers and sisters.”

“Our own gods have betrayed us, Vaygr-Khar. Our people needs you now more than this Ark, this cursed thing from the Ancients. All the Ancients have given us is grief and nothing more than grief to our people. We have nothing that can stand against them, nothing that can save our people from their insidious weapons.”

Taklan swallowed his pride. His personal self glory will come in a later time, right now, his people needed him. He stared one screen, with the Somtaaw fleet, and in the other, the prize of the lifetime, the Ark itself.

“Retract all scouts and order our strike craft in the bays to stand down. It is not in the tradition of the Vaygr to run away from a fight, but today we is not one of those days. Prepare for emergency hyperspace jump.”

Aboard the Kun-laan II

Toulan watched in utter surprise as the Vaygr fleet suddenly hyperspaced out of the system. “The bastards.” He shoot his fist proudly as if to claim victory.

“It is not usual for the Vaygr to run away from a fight especially if they have a remote chance of winning.” Kolar added his observation. “Something must be up.”

“Whatever the reasons we can count our blessings, dear Officer Kolar.”

Hagul interjected into the conversation. “It looks like our ‘victory’ is bigger than we thought. I have analyzed the inscriptions and labels of the lead Vaygr Mothership. It is the Batu herself, which can only mean one thing, that the Vaygr-Khar himself was in personal command.”

“Which makes their exit more mysterious. A proud person like that would not back down from a fight without good reason.” Kolar added.

“Perhaps they computed the adds of dealing with us, the Beastslayers and at the same time, dealing with the Keeper fleet.” Hagul said.

Kolar looked at the Captain at the mention of the word “Keepers”. “Which reminds me, what of the Keeper Fleet, Captain?”

“Now that is our next problem, Kolar. We deal with issues one by one at a time.” Toulan gazed at the screen with the Keeper fleet in display. “Hmm, they look quite bigger than the Vaygr fleet. If our ancestors was able to face the Beast straight in the eye, we can beat a bunch of mindless automatons no problem. Prepare to deploy strike craft at my command.”

“Sir, the lead Keeper ship is hailing us. It’s from that mothership looking thing.” Hagul said.

“Put the frequency on the speakers, Hagul.”

“Somtaaw Fleet, Somtaaw Fleet. I am calling to the Captain of the new Kun-Laan. This is Radal Somtaaw, Ranking Commander Retired of Fleet Somtaaw. We have in our possession, control of a major Progenitor vessel, the Ark of Geddon, and its Keeper support fleet. I most welcome to see the sight of Somtaaw ship deep into these forbidden parts.”

Toulan quickly grabbed the microphone. “Commander Radal. I am Captain Toulan, your kinsman of the same Kiithid as you are. I am honored to finally meet you, to hear the voice of a fellow Beastslayer in this remote region of space. What may I ask are you doing in command of a Progenitor vessel? I have only been too briefly briefed by my superiors on this issue.”

“Call it treasure hunting, Captain Toulan, to recover one of the greatest artifacts left by the Progenitors.”

“I see, Commander Radal.” Toulan studied the scans Hagul made of the Progenitor mothership, with the results displayed in one screen. “Then apparently you have succeeded.”

“Thank you, Captain.”

“My congratulations. Our great Kiithid of Somtaaw will forever enshrine your name in the monument of great heroes, Commander Radal. And all of Hiigara will be forever in your debt for your accomplishment.”

“Now if you don’t mind, Commander Radal, please back down your weapons and the Keeper fleet. We will send a Marine Frigate to board your vessel so that we may assume command. We will have your and your crew brought over to the Kun-Laan II, which you and your crew will be provided with the best guest rooms till your heroic return in Hiigara.”

“I am sure everyone will be proud of you, Commander Radal. My greatest pleasure to meet one of the greatest commanders of the Beastslayer Fleet.”

Aboard the Ark of Geddon

Iisha’s face twitched. She looked sternly at her father.

“The Somtaaw Marines will not be allowed on this vessel. No one will have control of this vessel but me.”

“Look, Iisha, it is over now. This is our chance to go home. We have been vindicated. We are heroes. This is the moment I’ve been waiting for.”

“But this is not the moment I am here for, Father. I, Iisha Somtaaw. I am a Somtaaw in birth. I understand our loyalties to our blood, heritage and our Kiithid. But now, the spirit of Geddon is inside me.”

“Father, I now answer to a higher calling.”

A higher calling… “What do you mean, Iisha?”

“The Legions of Souls have awakened, Father, all across this Galaxy. Called to the one Gate that is most holy to all of us. This is their ship, Father, the ship that will deliver all the Souls to the other side of the Gate, for us to begin once again our Mission. It is not the weapon you seek, nor of the Vaygr, nor of the fleet commanders of Hiigara. This is our ship, the Deliverer of Souls. Built only for that one sacred mission.”

“That mission will be fulfilled with or without you. Even if I have to do it alone.” Iisha said. “And you, and the rest of Kiith Somtaaw, or the rest of Hiigara, will not stop me.” With a twitch of her mind, the crowd of Keeper robots crept right next to her.

Radal studied the small throng of Keeper robots, then turned his sight to the larger throng of Keeper ships arrayed outside, and understood she will do everything to defend herself, the ship and this missions she has vowed to fulfill.

“Iisha, you have changed.”

“I know, Father, I know.”

“But you are still my child. And I will always stand beside you. I know what I have to do.”

“I know father, that you will do the right thing.”

Radal took a deep breath, sighed, and paused to reflect what he was about to do. “I just know it was too good to be true.”

He called Gursal, Mani and Banaan. “You three still have a choice. What I am about to do will stir up a nest of trouble between me and the rest of our people. I will probably throw down my entire career for this, my name, my pension. I will probably get ostracized for this, and worst yet, even go to prison, and you three don’t have to share the same fate.”

Gursal walked calmly besides Radal. “My friend. We have gone through this together, and we will see it together to the very end.”

Mani raised his thumb up. “Count me in,” Banaan affirmed. “This adventure I must see through to the end. Tell us what to do next, Captain and Commander, Radal Somtaaw.”

“Well then, it’s decided. There will be no turning back.” Radal recollected how many times he had said the last sentence. But that had been the theme of his life. There will be no turning back.

“All of you, take to the controls and your respective positions. And give me the microphone.”

Toulan called in from the channel. “Commander Radal, are you there? Please affirm the boarding of the Progenitor ship. Disarm the Keepers. The Marine Frigate is headed to your ship. Please direct to the docking bay.”

Radal took a deep breath as he was about to do the unthinkable.

“Captain Toulan. Boarding orders are refused. I repeat, boarding orders are refused.”

“Did I hear you correctly, Commander Radal?”

“Yes, you heard me correctly, Captain Toulan.”

“And the Keepers? Will they remain armed? Commander?”

“Yes, Captain Toulan. All Keeper ships will not stand down and remain in high alert.”

“So what are you doing, Commander? You are in direct violation of orders from Fleet Somtaaw. I have been sent here under both Fleet Somtaaw and Hiigaran Fleet Command to bring you back. Under the direct orders of the Sajuuk-Khar herself.”

“Tell our Kiith-Sa, our Sajuuk-Khar, I am very sorry.”

“You know this is treason, Commander. You will thrown down your entire career and service record with this.”

“I know, Captain, I know this very well.”

“Then why do this, Commander. I am giving you a chance.”

“I’m sorry, Captain. Something new has come up. I now have to answer to a higher calling.”

“What do you mean, Commander.”

“A higher calling, Captain. Maybe someday you will understand.”

“You know, Commander, this ship and the Task Force in my command is quite capable for a good fight, if that is what it has to take.”

“Yes, Captain. I know exactly what an Explorer class ship can do. I have commanded one myself. I know very well what it can do, and what it cannot. And that knowledge makes more dangerous to you than you to me. Combine that knowledge with all the capabilities of the Keepers and the Progenitor ships, Captain, you would not stand a chance.”

“So. Back down, Captain.” Radal gave a hand gesture to Iisha, Banaan and Mani. The hand gesture meant to prepare for a quick hyperspace jump.

***

Aboard the Kun-Laan II

“You’re not going to let him get away with this, Captain?” Kolar asked.

Toulan sighed as he gazed on his screens, line after line of Keeper ships and Junkyard Dog frigates disappearing into the shimmering doors and windows of hyperspace.

“There is nothing we can do now, Kolar. Nothing we can do but follow them. It’s all up to the hands of fate.” Toulan watched the screens and bit his lip, as the entire length of the Ark slipped into the largest hyperspace window he has ever seen.

Act 15 | Landing Page | Act 17

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