Soul of the Progenitors – Act 23

Act 22 | Landing Page | Act 24

Soul of the Progenitors

A Homeworld Fanfiction

by Crobato

Originally posted January 29, 2005 – 1:21AM

Act 23

so long ago…

She stood before the Grand Council of Elders. Among them stood Sajuuk. Others that stood with him, she could recall their names…Meheraan, Mastuk, Bashir, Sulaiman, and more. They were the Council of the Twelve, as they were also called. Beyond the Counil stood a mighty host of Believers, those who still follow the Word.

The roof of the great ship turned transparent from black to reflect the sky beyond. It was if the roof was gone, and all of space and its stars stared upon her. She looked high, and she could see the Mjoljineer, the immense space colony, in orbit around the rocky planet Nastuk, whose golden rocky surfaces reflected the ancient sun, its mountain ranges and craters forming an impression of a face looking down upon her. Nastuk was the prime source of mineral used to construct the space colony, the ships, and finally the great ship of Geddon-unar-Salas, the Deliverer of Souls.

In orbit near the great ship of Geddon, lay the Dreadnaughts. The first she recognized was the Sajuuk-Cor, a Super Dreadnaught of new design, the first of its class, the flagship of Sajuuk, known as the most dynamic of the Councilors. The other eleven Dreadnaughts were there also, the pride of the fleet of the Disciples, the Followers and Believers of the one Divine, the Way that holds them to eternity. The Dreadnaughts were accompanied by fleets of smaller ships, filling the skies in procession. Yet they also stand guard against the Nameless Ones, who had pursued the Followers from every system in the Galaxy, in a war of heresy and total extermination, leaving fleets of wreckage behind. Whole worlds and civilizations ended in this war; the work tasked by the Divine was unraveling under the carnage.

“You are born as Mahela, the Apprentice, then grown to be Priestess,” said Sajuuk to her. “But now you are chosen with this impossible task. You are no longer Mahela, but the Khar-Asalam Unar Geddon, the Chosen Pilot to be of the Ark Geddon. You will be one with the ship, and you too will be called Geddon, Deliverer.”

“Let it be known that once you accept this task, it will bind you forever. You can no longer go back to once you were.”

“I humbly accept this task, O great Council. If this is the path the Divine has wished for me, I will walk upon it,” she said. “I am Geddon.”

“Then you shall be, my child,” said Sajuuk. “The fates of the legions of souls are now at your hands. As the Deliverer, you are now Guardian and Keeper of the secrets and the souls of our race. As the Deliverer, all shall be passed to you.”

“First, under the Ark, all control of the Keepers and the Movers will be passed to you. They will preserve our ships and our technology.”

“Second, under the Ark, our DNA must be preserved so that our race can continue and be reborn anew in different worlds and galaxies.”.

“Third, under the Ark, all our Souls whose spark existed since the beginning of Time will be called forth and gathered under your protection. You must bring our Souls past this Galaxy and to the Next to continue the Work the Divine has assigned to us.”

“Fourth, under the Ark, all our memories, our knowledge, our history and our secrets will be preserved with you. You will be the one Keeper of all our souls and secrets, and deliver them to the next place so we may begin again, with our technology, our DNA, and our souls. You hold what is the essence of what we are, the essence that holds our salvation, our redemption.”

“These are your four Duties, Geddon,” Sajuuk said.

“I am willing, Council Elder,” said she. “Let it be.”

“So shall it be,” said Sajuuk who closed his eyes and lifted his hands. All the Council closed their eyes and lifted their hands. And so too did the host, the army of Believers that still stood with them.

“Receive thy blessings.” Sajuuk said. A ball of bright light appeared above his head. Other balls of shimmering light appeared above each head of the Council, then the lights appeared with the throng that stood with them. Then all began to sing as one choir, singing praises and hymns.

She lifted her hands, and the light appeared over her palms, then joining into a higher ball of light above her head.

“All our memories, from our time of inception, shall be yours, to keep, to preserve, and to transform,” said Sajuuk, the words, floating with the notes of the songs. “Knowing what we are from our beginnings, is to remind us of the path we must all take.”

His light extended a ray into her ball of light. Soon, quickly, all the balls of light joined into her ball that hovered above her head.

“We were the first to have sentience in this Universe,” Sajuuk said. “And in so doing, came closest to the Divine in knowledge, wisdom and form. And so we are tasked to spread the Word, to bring light and civilization to all the races that came after us, from one Galaxy to another, so that all life will be uplifted to the state we are, where we can touch the face of the Divine itself. In so doing, we bring order, we bring evolution and creation, we transform the state of the Universe to be the hand of the Divine.”

“Yes,” she called, her mind and soul, being filled with the secrets and essence of an entire race. “We are the instruments of transformation. This is our Mission. This is the Mission I must preserve.”

“It is complete. You are now the Key of our Deliverance. Geddon,” said Sajuuk, as his light dimmed with the task finished.

She remembered the first ever Disciple to fall upon his knees in prayer, in a world so far away, so long ago. Nothing more than a man who lived in a hut and tended a herd with a staff to provide his tribe with food, when fire and metal was still new, and crops on the ground had to be tended and eaten He looked to the sky, to the stars and the moons at night, to the sun in the day. Then it happened, one day, that the Word came upon him, and he knew what had to be done. Then all the events that happened afterward, eons after eons. From the actions of one man,was a spark, that gave the first sentient race in the universe, the first civilization. After many eons, that civilization traveled to space, to pass the same Word to other life in other worlds. When an entire Galaxy was filled and transformed with the Word, they built a great Ark and a Gate, and with it, they moved from one Galaxy to another. Each time they moved, they restarted their civilization, and bring the Word again to all the other growing civilizations in their path. And so the Ark, the Deliverer, had happened so many times before in the past, each resetting, each being reborn, one Galaxy to another. There were so many Deliverers before her, each for every cycle, and countless cycles have passed.

That was what they are, Believers, Followers and Missionaries. That was the Mission, and the Mission continued until what happened in this Galaxy. She was the Deliverer, pilot of the Ark. There were many before her, and she was to insure that there would be many after her. This time, the Cycle was damaged by the Heresy. Now the Mission was threatened. The Missionaries had to create the Ark and the Deliverer prematurely. They must escape. If their task in this Galaxy would happen to fail, they must ensure their survival, so that the Mission, the Word would prevail in the next Galaxy.

Her soul, filled with inspiration and purpose, began to cry out in song, and she fell to her knees then lay prone on the floor facing the altar, singing praises and prayers.

“Our task is finished,” Sajuuk said. “We must head out now to fight the heresy of the Nameless Ones. Our darkest days as a race, in the story of the Mission, lie ahead.” Sajuuk looked forth to the crowd. “She is now Deliverer. Protect her.” Then he looked at her, and said, “Deliverer, protect us.”

***

Aboard the Ark of Geddon, Present Day

“Lock all batteries on the main target,” Radal ordered. “Make sure all the firing data is passed from the fire control towers to all the Dreadnaughts in the fleet.”

“Roger,” Iisha said. Her mind flashed commands to the turret systems, and port hatches uncovered massive turrets hidden along the hull. The massive batteries began moving out from the embedded positions, barrels pointing at their target. Each turret was a mass driver based on a railgun design, using sabots that were as big as an Hiigran Interceptor and tipped with depleted uranium. In addition, they were supported by large missile batteries, two in the front and two in the rear, each missile as big as a Hiigaran torpedo, and Gursal preferred to call them by that name. Automated factories within the Ark manufactured both shell and missile based on available resources. When the Ark was first found, Gursal uncovered stores of both sabots and missiles, but Radal thought it was not good wisdom to rely on millennia old ordinance, ordered Iisha to scrap them and have the ordinance rebuilt.

“Arraign all the Dreadnaughts around the Ark in a protective formation. Make sure all their firing arcs can cover the main target.” Radal said. “But also make sure they won’t get into the firing arcs of our own guns.”

“Roger. Orders passed.” Gursal acknowledged. “I got the Tartarus on sights. She’s one hell of a big mothership I can tell you. And the bigger they are, the easier to lock in, and the bigger the explosion they make too.”

Mani flashed his report from the sensors and communications console. “Kun-Laan 2 has been receiving heavy fire from the Tartarus. She seems to be crippled, her steering is lost and I got word that her captain is also wounded. Only one of the five Arch Seraphims are still alive and frantically defending the mining ship, along with her protective screen of Pulsar frigates and Mark four Deacon destroyers. If we don’t’ do something, she will be lost.”

“We will save the ship of the Somtaaw,” Radal swore, “ and we will save the ships of Hiigara. Set batteries and fire at will.”

“Roger,” Iisha said, closing her eyes as her brain communicated to the firing control systems of the ship directly. A hail of fire began shooting out from the turrets, just as the five Sajuuk class Dreadnaughts open fire. After the kinetic fire, came a spread of torpedoes.

Explosions rocked the Tartarus, and the ship slowly turned around in an agonizing hurtful move towards the Ark and away from the Kun-Laan 2.

The Kun-Laan 2 drifted, her entire complement of Resource Collectors frantically repairing and keeping the poor ship together, while tugs attempted to pull her out of the firing range and an array of Sentinel pods and Field Frigates created defensive shields around the ship.. Some Minelaying frigates, covered by Cloak Generators being towed by Tugs, attempted to lay a minefield between the Kun-laan 2, the Sajuuk, the stricken Dreadnaught, and the Pride of Hiigara. The Pulsar Frigates, descendants of the Dervish class, fought to protect the Collectors and Tugs from the harassment of the enemy attack drones, while the fourth generation Deacon Destroyers—already a few of their numbers destroyed—engaged enemy frigate and destroyer sized ships attempting to finish off the surviving Somtaaw mining ship.

But the Kun-Laan 2 has bought Karan S’jet some time. Word came through Mani’s channels that the Sajuuk-Khar has taken up on the Pride of Hiigara once again, and the venerable mothership was now again, flagship. Meanwhile the Sajuuk dreadnaught attempted repairs on her controls and steering. The Super Acolytes had returned from their escort duties and has joined the protective screen around the Somtaaw mining ship, as well as the Collectors and Tugs that hang around her sides like limpets.

Another wave of fire came upon the Tartarus. Iisha jerked, as the enemy mothership felt the pain and broadcasted what it felt to all that was telephatic. “What was it?” Radal asked in concern.

“I can feel it. We have hurt the Tartarus,” Iisha said.

“Good. Now it has learned it’s not invincible,” Radal said. “Another wave of artillery and torps, please!”

“But remember, an animal is most dangerous when it is wounded and cornered,” said Gursal.

“We got enemy fleets hyperspacing around our position,” Mani warned. “The pincer fleet has turned their attention from the Vaygr to us.”

“Keep them busy with our point defense systems,” Radal ordered. He noted that the Ark and the Dreadnaughts do not have Gravwells that could have stopped the hyperspace jumps.

“Not enough, we got Assault Motherships firing at us!” Gursal reported. “I’m calling help from our Hiigaran fleet. The P3 center positions have been demolished, and the strike forces are now available to strike.”

“They won’t have enough firepower to stop the assault motherships in time,” Radal said.

“We got word that the Kun-Laan 2 is now out of action,” Mani said. “ She’s safe, but she can’t fight no more. All her fire control systems are shot. She has hyperspaced out of the battlefield. If the Tartarus continued fire on her, she would have been lost. She lost almost all her escorts though, the last Arch Seraphim has been destroyed and much of her destroyer and frigate screens.”

“If we didn’t attack the Tartarus, the Kun-Laan 2 would have been destroyed,” Gursal said.

“Enemy forces now concentrating their fire on the main Hiigaran fleet, including the Pride of Hiigara,” Mani reported.

There was a bright flash in the window.

“What was that?” Radal asked.

“Unfortunately that was the Kharak-cor Dreadnaught,” Gursal said. “We can’t keep on firing at the Tartarus either. One of our Dreadnaughts is taking fire.”

Radal sighed, and understood what he had to do next. “Lock on to the nearest T-MAT ship and blow it out of the sky!”

“Roger!” Gursal said.

True to his orders, the nearest T-MAT mothership was blown out of the sky, followed by another. But stricken Dreadnaught in their formation crumbled, and in its death came a bright flash of light, followed by a shockwave.

“Now we only have four Dreadnaughts,” Gursal said.

“We’re going to fight through this,” Radal said, unperturbed.

Three more enemy motherships fell under their combined fire, but another Dreadnaught met its end in a blinding flash.

“Now we only have three,” Gursal grimly reported. “The Tartarus regained itself and has commenced fire and is trying to strip our remaining Dreadnaught screen!”

Earlier, attempts to take over P3 ships with Infiltrator and Marine frigates proved useless. The armor could no be breached by the welding tools, and the insides swarmed with defensive robots. Nor could the Marines and Infiltrators managed to work through the indecipherable computer systems inside the ships, far more advanced than than the technology level of the Hiigarans and Vaygr. With this knowledge, marines and soldiers—all of whom had secondary training as pilots—were ordered to fly reserve strike craft. The shipyards and the carriers still produced as much fighters and bombers their production lines could handle, while Collectors were busy collecting debris and junk from dead ships that can be utilized for production. With these, new waves of reserve strike craft were created. They were launched, ordered to defend the Ark.

As new strike forces have began to swarm against the P3 forces attacking the Ark and her formation, the battle around the center has become a free for all. Despite the use of reserves, Radal could see that the strike forces have lost much of their density and with it, their firepower. The new drafted pilots would not be as good as the ones spent on the initial waves and they don’t have enough time to build as many strike craft either. All they could do was to harass, and ultimately get picked off by the enemy drones and the point defense fire from the P3 capital ships.

“Iisha, forget the P3 holding fleet and order the Keeper ships to hyperspace to our position at once. We need the Movers and Keeper drones to distract them!” Radal ordered.

“But father! With nothing to hold the two enemy fleets, they would also be free to attack us!”

“We got to take that risk, Iisha. Looks like our original plan is not looking so brilliant right now.”

***

Surviving Vaygr and Hiigaran forces have regrouped around the Ark, turning the battle around the Ark into a free for all. The Pride of Hiigara had hyperspaced out from the main battle center, itself badly wounded, but not before destroying a T-MAT mothership using hyperspace inhibitors against the Hiigaran ship. The T-MAT however, delayed the Hiigaran mothership’s escape, and it took a long time to be finally destroyed by concentrated strike forces. During that time, the Pride of Hiigara suffered under heavy fire. Smoking, the Pride of Hiigara reappeared in the far corner of the battlespace, where the Hiigarans had to reconsider their options.

One more Dreadnaught had fallen out of formation, her smoking hull surviving, but her steering and her main fire control systems were shot. Only her autonomous point defense systems continued to fire, but the ship had no more use in the fight. Two more of the Sajuuk class Dreadnaughts were left out of the five.

But their sacrifice was not in vain. By distracting fire from the Ark, the Ark and its formation had damaged and destroyed several more T-MAT ships. The long range fire from the Ark’s rail based mass driver turrets pierced through the T-MAT hull armor with ease with armor piercing sabots. At least four more T-MAT motherships crumbled under the Ark’s attack, finished off from the ion beams of the Dreadnaughts.

Still the Tartarus loomed in the main screen of the Ark. Radal watched it closely. The T-MAT fleet had been larger than anticipated, and even with numerous kills, the battle had not been on their favor.

“We’re not going to last long, Iisha. Only two Dreadnaughts left, Hiigarans and Vaygr got their wind pretty much knocked out, and only the Keepers keeping us alive.”

“Well, the Hiigaran and Vaygr Collectors too,” Iisha said, pointing to a screen showing numerous Collectors volunteering themselves attaching to the hull of the Ark and doing repairs.

“But I can see we do not have much of an option. I am running engines full towards the Tartarus and letting him have my turrets point blank,” Iisha said.

Gursal nodded, as the Ark shook from receiving fire.

“Then order more of the Movers to heal and reinforce this ship’s hull. We’re going in and we will be receiving more of the enemy fire,” Radal said.

“Sir!” Mani shouted. “It may not be necessary. The Tartarus had powered up its engines and is headed towards us.”

“Come to papa, then,” Radal remarked. “Formation, concentrate fire on the Tartarus!”

The Ark had huge missile batteries on the bottom of its hull that Gursal called torpedoes. Gursal armed the tubes, launching a spread, while the railed mass drivers pounded and pounded against their target.

The sabots punched through the hull of the Tartarus, but the ship continued to accelerate. Explosions rocked against the hull, but the Tartarus continued on its course, smoking from where the torpedoes hit it.

“Rearming!” Gursal said, as he watched from a screen diagram, the next set of missiles loaded into the tubes.

Then four ion beams shot out from the Tartarus, and several screens inside the Ark turned black, then regained themselves as emergency systems kicked in.

“We got hit badly! Damage report!” Radal ordered as the lights flickered due to the damage done on the power systems. .

“We just lost our frontal gun batteries,” Iisha said. “I’m running diagnostics on the damage. At least one torpedo opening may have been shut.”

“The Tartarus is turning around,” Gursal said. “But it’s course is still headed towards us.”

“That’s because its bringing the ion beam turrets from the other side to bear against us,” Banaan said.

“Confirmed, we also lost one torpedo battery,” Gursal said.

“Brace yourself,” Radal warned as the other side of the Tartarus has faced the Ark, the ion beam turrets now bearing on them.

The ion beams shot out, and Radal could swear they were the most powerful ion beams he had seen.

The Ark shuddered under the impact. “We just lost our second frontal torpedo battery sir,” Gursal reported.

“We got hull breach in sections 3, 5, 16 and 47. We’re venting air and fire in that section. I got Movers headed to seal all breach right away,” Iisha said.

“Casualties?” Radal asked.

“Too early to tell. It’s been too chaotic, but I can feel the Souls telephatically. They had lost a number of Followers in those sections from the hits.”

“The Tartarus is turning again, bringing the other batteries at us,” Mani reported. “This time, they got their P3 version of Movers doing repairs on their ship.” Mani pointed to the screen frigate sized, insect like robotic ships have fastened themselves on the hull doing quick repairs spraying liquid ablative armor onto the breeches and extinguishing fires within.

“Which has made our attacks useless against them,” Gursal said.

“That’s not good,” Mani said. “The Tartarus is still coming towards us.”

“We still got one frontal kinetic battery left, and I’m using it to fire at the bastard,” Gursal banged on the console.

But the Tartarus remained unstoppable. “It’s still coming closer…and closer… It’s powering up ion beam batteries!” Mani reported.

Already heavily damaged, the fourth Dreadnaught broke in half as the ion beams from the Tartarus sliced across it. Amazingly, the two halves survived each on their own and drifted, spilling the contents inside the hull, which could have people, more of the revived Progenitors that went to crew the ship.

“Damn this!” Radal shouted, as Iisha closed her eyes to mourn the dead in one second. Her consciousness remained linked and aware with the consciousness of the Awakened, and she could sense their loss and pain like she was part of one giant mind.

The last Dreadnaught fired its ion beams, carving out a large molten mark on the hull of the Tartarus. The Tartarus turned like a wheel again, the damaged side once again repaired, ion batteries charged up.

Four ion beams tore through the bridge of the fifth Dreadnaught, killing its crew—more of the revived Progenitor souls—leaving the ship brainless. Fires and explosions spread through out the ship as the beams cut through the ship’s entire length, knocking out its fire control and steering systems.

Radal watched in horror as the ship turned to its side like a dead aquatic creature, then drifted in heavy flames out of formation and out of control. The hull remained intact, as sturdy as it was, but the ship, its brain, its mind and its soul, was good as dead. The power of this T-MAT flagship was such it could reduce even Sajuuk class Dreadnaughts into dust.

Radal pounded the top of his table with both fists, as Iisha’ faced grimaced in mournful pain.

“It’s almost on top of us,” Mani reported. “That thing moved fast for something that big.”

“Damn!” Gursal cried out. “It’s moved out of the turret’s firing arc. I’m shooting from all the upper turrets and point defense systems.”

Eruptions covered the Tartarus, and its point defense systems replied the favor. Blasts rocked the upper deck of the Ark in a broadside. “Looks we were going one on one now,” Radal said as he waved his fist defiantly at the ceiling, in the general direction where the Tartarus now was. From the corner of Radal’s eye, he saw a T-MAT ship turned into brilliant flash, a victim of the surviving strike forces, and he sensed that he was still in the fight.

Still, it may all bloody end here. His life, his daughter, his friends, the fate of two empires, and an entire ancient faith. But it will not be without a fight, and he will not go alone and in vain.

With the Tartarus now up, the ship could not turn the ion batteries at her side towards the Ark. That seemed like a strange move, with only the secondary armaments from the tentacles shooting at them. Sensors have not detected any major weapons systems on the center maw of the Tartarus, not like other T-MAT classes, where they might have a Siege Cannon, cruise missile launcher or massive ion beam batteries. So what inside the maw and why the Tartarus has moved it closer to the Ark?

Suddenly the tentacles of the Tartarus stretched outward, then towards the Ark. The five pointed arms smashed into the hull, the end of each arm like a spike that broke through the armor plating and deep into the bowels of the ship.

Then the maw itself finally opened, and there appeared to be like tentacles, spreading out to the Ark. No, not tentacles—cables!

“No!” Iisha screamed, as the cables swept inside the hull breaches torn on top of the Ark, forced open by the point defense cannons of the Tartarus. The same rapid autocannon fire had wiped out the repairing Collectors and Movers from the upper deck.

Radal thought that Iisha knew what those cables were. Each twirled like a snake, linear motors and actuators hidden under the shell of each segment. In the head of a cable lay a probe with an electronic eye, which twisted around and searched like a living worm. They quickly wiggled along the deck, into breeches and craches, then inside, searched the conduits and junctions running along the entire length of the ship, only to join into the Ark’s main computer hubs.

“It’s hacking into the ship!” Mani said as he pounded on the console. The displays had turned erratic, numbers, diagrams, running all over.

The screens flickered as Iisha grimaced in pain, her mouth open trying to scream for help in vain, her face a mask of horror. Amidst the static, the screens formed a pale, gaunt face, framed with the hood of a monk, eyes buried deep into sockets.

“That’s right,” said the image on the screen. “I am taking over. I am the one whose name you cannot say. I am the one whose name was damned for eternity.”

Act 22 | Landing Page | Act 24

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