The White Beast
A Homeworld Fanfiction
Originally posted April 26, 2001
“I’m right here, my child.” His image beamed with light, and an aura surrounded him.
“I thought you were dead.” Zha knelt before the image. “Is that really you?”
“I will always be with you, my loved one,” said the image. “You know me by what you feel in your heart.”
“Father?” Zha reached out to touch the ethereal image, and that was when she opened her eyes. She stared at the walls that made up her bedroom, all lined with photos of planets, diagrams and pictures of starships and fighters, and a few photos of some Taiidan pop idols. There were too many unspeakable things that lay on the floor. Other junk littered the shelves and tables. The room could be a museum on its own.
Too many dreams lately, she thought. A few were nightmares, but many of them were of her father. She remembered the purification ceremony aboard the Kadeshi mothership. Did that drug really stoned her mind permanently? She shook her head, then wiped her eyes. Her skin was sweaty, and her face was pale.
She got up and put a shirt on. She sighed as she left for the ship hangers. In the locker rooms, she slipped on a flight suit. A new customized Arrow awaits her, a cheap surplus model she had bought during the stop at Hiigara. Beside it were other custom hotrod projects—a Triikor with an engine in a state of disassembly, and a Fiirkan with its cockpit chair removed for a replacement. They were all her toys. She examined the components in the Triikor and the Fiirkan before she entered the cockpit of the Arrow. The cocket had removed the original Kushan pilot seat, and in its place, was a new seat molded to fit her petite physique.
On the back was the liquid membrane module, which will interface with her helmet. While she herself does not require the liquid membrane apparatus, there are others in her people who have evolved to become addicted. The liquid contains a drug that heightened awareness and kept the pilot awake during high G maneuvers. The liquid was also oxygen rich, and kept the blood fully supplied to keep the pilot from blacking out. The combination of the drug and the concentrated oxygenated fluid also gave pilots a immense “high”—the brain became hyperactive. The euphoria and the kick the liquid gave left many Raider pilots dangerously addicted to it. There were other drawbacks, including hallucination and high irritability. For these reasons, the Taiidani had forbidden the use and research of similar environments for their pilots.
She was too young to be addicted, but her depressions and dreams had driven her to use the liquid environment more often. She slipped on the helmet and clicked a button on it. The liquid began to fill her helmet, submerging her eyes. She coughed a bit as the liquid entered her lungs, replacing the air she breathed. The liquid began its kick and suddenly it felt like she was aware of every detail in the craft. Everything suddenly became so clearer now, and she laughed with the euphoria. Her Starfarer senses kicked in and the liquid enhanced it. She can hear the stars singing and the winds of the cosmos passing, ebbing in waves and rushing in tides. She could not cry, as the tears in her eyes quickly dissolved and mixed with the liquid. This was all so beautiful.
She waved her hand, and the flag man acknowledged that the rails were clear for take off. She pulled a lever and her back suddenly hit the chair as the rails pushed the fighter hard, faster, faster, and flung it into the blackness. She ignited and the Arrow took control of its momentum and its flight. She rolled, testing the feel of its controls and she looped the fighter. The Arrow felt so responsive, so precise, as if every control was linked to her muscles, every vibration and sound from the craft linked to her nerve endings.
This was her element she felt, her escape. Here, she felt like one among the stars and the winds that fill the void between them. Here she can hear their songs so vividly, their melodies lapping one another endlessly like an orchestra that would never stop playing. Here, oddly enough, she felt closer to her father, who was renowned as a fighter pilot even among the best of the Raiders. He would often leave the safety of his capital ship to personally lead strike craft formations in a small fighter. He saw no boundaries, no limitations on what he can do. In victory, he would perform all sorts of acrobatic stunts with his fighter for all the crews in his ships to marvel.
She barrel rolled, then lifted the nose for a loop to loop, executing one of her father’s famous stunts. Will she ever live to his expectations? Will she be able to fill the shoes he left? She banked her fighter into a tight turn, then rolled into a spin, then came out again, boosting.
“What is going on?” Seejuk asked as he entered the bridge.
“It’s the captain, sir,” said the officer in charge. “She’s off again testing her new fighter.”
Seejuk watched Zha do more acrobatics on her scout. She had been more edgy and moody lately, he thought. Was it part of growing up? Despite their adventures together, Seejuk felt that inside Zha there was a vaccum. She had no family but her ship and her fighters. He could not be a new father for her, but he tried in his own unique way. Maybe she’s a spoiled princess, but she was also a sad girl who suddenly had to grow up. Running a carrier, a task force and the future of her House on her shoulders, that was a bit too much for a girl of her age. But she hanged on. She hanged on, yes, but not without a personal cost Seejuk had started to percieve. For a brief moment she was happy in the beachfront at Hiigara during a much needed shore leave. There, she forgot who she was, and she beamed as she played in the water.
Maybe she missed living in a real home, something that had permanence. In the few years, she lived with the Mule, and the carrier has been around the galaxy and back. That’s more like the life of a homeless nomad. She had lost her Outpost home, and they needed to return to the Raider Council, where in the presence of the Inner Lords, she must make a formal request to rebuild that Outpost. For a Raider House, an Outpost signifies validity in addition to its prestige and practical uses. Without an Outpost, the Khor sector in space faces threat from tresspassers and mining poachers. Mining ships would slip to the sector and mine illegally. Rivals among the Raiders would attempt to make territorial claims against the sector.
Seejuk’s thoughts were suddenly interrupted. There was an unwelcome visitor to the bridge. “What’s going on here?” said Kuo’ran. “I’m trying to get some sleep, but it is so hard to do it in this messy bucket of bolts. The rooms are so dirty and musty. The floors needed to be desperately cleaned. This ship must be very old, not like the new carriers the Sjet have in their fleet.”
“You know, Miss Kuo’ran,” Seejuk replied. “If the facilities in this ship does not meet your requirements, you can go back to the Sjet fleet and have them bring you to where ever you want to go.”
Kuo’ran toggled her large glasses. “Ships with the Hiigaran flag are still not allowed to enter interior Raider homespace such the area that surrounds the Turan planetoid. Hiigaran ships are only allowed currently to visit territorial space of outer Houses that have a commercial and passage treaty with Hiigara. I need a Raider vessel to take us where I need to go. Besides, I want the opportunity to meet and talk to the great Seejuk Liirhra.”
“Me?” Seejuk was surprised.
“Yes, you, Mister Seejuk Liirhra,” Kuo’ran explained. “You are a legend in the Academy. You opened up a vast treasure of relics from the Kadeshi. Without you, we would not be able to open up study on ancient galactic history. We are pioneers, Mr. Seejuk, but I am only a pioneer following the steps of an even greater pioneer—you.”
“Me?” Seejuk asked again.
“That is why your personal expertise is needed for my work. When the time comes, I will let you know,” Kuo’ran.
There was another presence in the bridge. “So when is that, Kuo’ran,” asked Giirsa. “Playing more of your mind games? The least you can be is to be honest with Mr. Seejuk and Miss Zha. But no…”
“How dare you,” Kuo’ran flashed her temper. “How can you talk hypocritically about secrets—Mr. Giirsa Kaalel. You—the Corrupter of the Academy—you…you got more bones in your closet that one day, not even your rich father and your bribes will be able hide the stench from.”
Giirsa laughed, deliciously taking pleasure at seeing Kuo’ran indignant. There was no greater pleasure in life than to take pot shots at this young Sjet prude.
“So what are you going here too?” Seejuk said. “Is the accommodations too dirty and antiquated for the fine likes of the scion of Kaalelsa?”
“Your accommodations are sufficient for my purpose, Mr. Seejuk,” Giirsa replied. “I cannot sleep because of my excitement in the discoveries that await us. My theory of ProtoGenesis will not only be proved but we will be able to draft how the galactic civilizations was before the ancient Hiigaran Empire. We can begin to find where our ultimate origins came from.”
“YOUR THEORY?…YOUR THEORY?” Kuo’ran shouted. “It is MY THEORY. I made it and YOU STOLE IT. You peeped into my desk, my locker. You stealer, you cheater… That is what you expect of any Kaalel…”
“You nearsighted imbecile,” Giirsa snarled. “I am beginning to lose my patience with the likes of you, Miss Kuo’ran, to suggest that I–I, Giirsa Kaalel, Heir to the Kaalel Kiithsa, to the Kaalel Software Enterprises—the greatest media and software company Hiigara will ever know—will ever steal an idea from a blind fly like you? Your claim is so foolish that it does not deserve an intelligent response.”
“For your information, ladies and gentlemen,” Seejuk interrupted, “I wrote a theory like that in my journals when I began my catalog of the Kadeshi artifacts.”
“Forgive me, Mr. Seejuk, but I made the theory before that in my study of Taiidani ancient history,” Kuo’ran countered. “I made a term paper out of it and you can find the paper in the Academy records.”
“I publicized this theory in the Hiigaran Discovery Journal, published by my company Kaalel Publications, in my analysis of ancient artifacts found in Hiigara itself,” said Giirsa.
“Who are you calling a nearsighted imbecile and a blind fly, Mr. Giirsa? I will report this incident to my aunt and Kiithsa matron,” Kuo’ran threatened.
“The slightest sign of trouble and you retreat to the skirt of your matron. Now as you expect the entire vast networks of the Kaalel financial and media empire should be scared of Karan…Muhahaha,” Giirsa laughed sternly.
There was a voice in the comlink. “This is Zha Khor in Alpha One to the Mule, come in please. My sensors have a sighting.”
“This is Seejuk at the Mule, we hear you. what do you see now? Whatever it is, it’s still beyond the Mule’s sensor range.”
“No hostile energy signatures, I’m flying in for a closer look, Zha here in Alpha One.”
Seconds later, her voice cracked through the comlink. “This is Zha Khor at Alpha One, I got visual contact. Looks like a large ship being pulled by tugs. No, it looks like a base. I’m sending you pictures right now.”
Seejuk stared at the screens and smiled. “Looks like one of our assignments came early. Zha, meet your new temporary Outpost. Remember we signed with the Somtaaw for miniing rights? Well, they’re ahead in keeping their bargain. They bought an old Taiidani base so they can use as a temporary base of operations, and which we can use for the same purpose as a base for the Mule. The base was supposed to have been retired but it appears we can give it a new lease in life, that is until we have a formal Outpost constructed.”
“How come you did not tell me—-oh I remember now. I am so forgetful lately,” Zha said. “Thank you.”
“We need to escort the base and the Somtaaw tugs to the Khor homespace,” Seejuk said. “Up to it, Zha?”
“Yes…” her voice turned to excitement. “I will you meet you in the bridge, Seejuk” Zha said.
Seejuk turned his attention to Kuo’ran and Giirsa. “Well, we have work to do here, and I would appreciate you two take your squabbles elsewhere.”
“This is not over yet, Miss Kuo’ran,” Giirsa warned as he left.
“Hmmph!” Kuo’ran said, waiting for Giirsa to clear the corrigdor before she left the bridge herself.
The old scribe Salim of the Inner House of Flo’karr poured over the ancient Scriptures. For eras past, the House of Flo’karr had been the caretakers and the recorders of Raider history. That was a task impossible, as the Raiders spanned the whole breadth of the Outer regions, including the Rim and all of the Arms. The Raiders was, and had been for generations, spanning the galaxy before the great Taiidan encountered them in -475 BL in the Turan sector. They had different names then; some called the Nomads, the Dispossesed, and even the Scourge, but it was the name the Raiders that stuck best of all. The nomads liked what the Raiders name meant and adopted it. Later, when the Taiidans kept referring the Nomads as Turanics, the name Turanic became stuck in the Raiders’ social mind. During the peak of the Taiidan empire, a planetoid base was established in the Turan sector to symbolically represent the Raiders in a united face to the Emperor and court of the Taiidan Empire. This base became ceremonially, the “homeplace” of the Raiders. It became a place where the Taiidans negotiated with the Raiders, a place where they exchanged technology and other goods—a front to represent what is all of the Raiders to the known civilizations of the Galaxy.
But it is not the true homespace of the Raiders. Their origins would lay in a past darker and ancient, one that is more lined in blood than all the piracy and crimes the Raiders had committed.
The Inner House of Flo’karr was elected to run the Turan planetoid base, and they had done so for eras. Among the rivalry of the Houses, the Inner House of Flo’karr was a safe political choice. They were a House of intellectuals, historians and engineers. They distanced themselves from the power plays and political manipulations among the Houses. The Flo’karr’s management of the planetoid gave the base a sense of neutrality and became even a safe haven for those fleeing the repercussions of such political manipulations. In time, it has become the neutral ground to hold the Grand Council for both the Inner and Outer Houses, where all Raiders meet, discuss and plan their futures.
Near Salim was his young assistant scribe and daughter, Zhura, who he hoped someday will succeed him in the recording of time and the preservation of the acts, deeds and songs of the great Raiders. “You ever believe in the Prophecies in the Scriptures?” He asked.
“I do, Father, but there are many among us now who do not. The Scriptures and the Legends are so ancient now, that many of us no longer believe that it was true. That everything was a myth.”
“If they do not believe in the Scriptures, then the core and the soul of the Raider spirit will be gone,” Salim warned. “For it is the past that made us and binds us together. To forget our past is to forget about being a Raider. We must not forsake our past. We must not forsake who we are.”
“You know the Prophecies, Zhura?”
“I know them by heart, Father.”
“You know about the coming of the Nemesis, Zhura.”
“I know that, Father—.
For the Promised Ones, once exiled return to their Mother’s world, the Great Star will fall. the Stars will weep, the winds will carry their sad song. For the time of Tribulation have come for those who wander, the Feared Enemy, the Nemesis will tame the Beast and hold the key to the Deliverer.
—that is the Prophey of the End, Father, the end of our race, the end of the Raiders.” “But Father, many scribes among our House say that this prophecy has been fulfilled. Our future is safe.”
“The Promised ones are the Kushans, who have returned to their Homeworld, Hiigara.”
“The Great Star is the last Emperor of Taiidan, who fell with the return of the Exiles.”
“The weeping stars are the Taiidani Imperialists, who have lost their war.”
“The Beast came, and we had our time of Tribulation as the Beast destroyed much in our homespace.”
“The Somtaaw who released the Beast are the ones who destroyed it.”
“It is over Father, we are in a new age of enlightenment,” Zhura concluded.
“No, my child Zhura,” Salim sternly rebuked her. “Do not listen to the other scribes. Listen to the true meaning of the prophecy.”
“The Prophecy lies unfulfilled, but it will see its true fufillment soon.”
“The Promised ones were the Protectors of the Gardens, who have returned to the Homeworld of their Mother, as promised by their Great Mother.”
“The Great Star was the ship of the Mother, the Khar’nak, as it plunged in the sky of Hiigara.”
“The Stars that weep and the winds that carry a song—these are not the Imperialists. They mark the return of the Starfarers of our old legends, those who can listen to the songs of the stars and the melodies of the cosmic winds.”
“The Somtaaw was never the Nemesis. The Nemesis was our ancient enemy, the ones who enslaved our Ancestors. Long time ago, the slaves made the Oath of Baruk, swearing strength in unity, and with the help of the great hero Baruk, they slain the Nemesis and cast themselves free. That was the beginning of our race, the Raiders. That was the beginning of our freedom. Every year, every House of the Raiders must recite the Oath of Baruk, to remind themselves of the bondage that disunity brings. It is because of this Oath, we Raiders survive united as a race, despite spanning the galaxy in nomadic tribes. Disobedience to this Oath is the end of the Raiders. There are those who do no believe in the Nemesis, of those who do not believe in the past, and of those who do not believe in the Oath. They lay the seeds of our destruction.”
“We, the Scribes of the Inner House of Flo’karr, are the defenders of this Oath. While we do not have the great fleets of the House of For’lym, the strength and courage of the House of Du’ran, the piloting skills of the House of Harkk’hah, we have the Faith and the Wisdom renowned of the Flo’karr, and that is our Sword.”
“The Nemesis shall return, and I do not believe that we have seen the last of the Beast. The greatest of the Beast still lies out there, more powerful than the Naggarok, and the taming of the Beast suggests that the Nemesis will have the power to capture this Beast, or make it its ally. If such a things happens, the combined power of the Raiders cannot stop such a foe, and the Age of Darkness will fall upon us once again.”
Zhura would have dismissed all this as the rambling of a cynical old man. But Salim was her father, and he was onced the most renowned scribe of all the Flo’karr and to all the Raiders. She would need to study this, but even if what her father says is true, how can she convince the rest of the Flo’karr and bring this to assembly of the Council? This was so against the mainstream interpretation of the Nemesis prophecy. They would laugh at her. Zhura could imagine her frail frame shaking at the hoarse laughter of the strong men of Du’ran.
Aboard the flagship, the Atonement…
X’on stared through the magnificent sphere like portals into the dark spaces beyond. The circular spiral disk of the galaxy lit the background of his view. Above his head was the dim glow of a nebula, the birthplace of young stars. Silhouetted against the glow were the legions of his armada.
The formations of Mantas bombers swept by, followed by formations of Skate fighters and Bat scouts. The Mantas and the Skates had sweeping wings, slits where the cannon ports are, and a structure that ends in a short tail. The Bats had no tails, but their wings were just as imposing, and twin cannon ports extruded from the edge of the wings.
An officer entered the bridge to make his report. “So what now, Centurion,” X’on asked. “Our Legions are ready. The Penance, the Forsaken and the Unforgiven are all in place. We have pinpointed the location of the Beast,” said the Officer.
“And the Beast, can you be certain of its strength?” X’on asked.
“It is many generations removed from the Naggarok Beast. We do not know of its temperament, but its power is incredible. It has successively defeated many of our attacks, but this time, we will not be as careless and may have the means to temporarily immobilize it through a massive dampening field that affects gravity and energy fields. After that we can install the nodes.”
“I applaud the ingenuity,” X’on said. “You are dismissed. Prepare to execute my plan on my word.”
In the docking bay of the Atonement, a pilot among the legions, rushed to his Manta. As he sat, the instruments came to life in an instant from his sheer presence. Square metallic patches suddenly grew in his skin and soon all the interfaces were complete.
With a thought in his mind, the rails propelled the Manta, followed by a Skate. Flung at high speeds into space, the pilot in a flick of his mind, lit the engines, and the Manta coasted into formation with a long line of fellow Mantas. “This is Angel Zero-Four, I am in position, Angel Leader.” The Manta was united with him—he was the brain, and the Manta was his body, pilot and ship like one creature.
The Skate behind him has lit its engines and joined Demon wing. “This is Demon Leader to Angel Leader. We have your formation in sight. Watching your backs, Angel Wing.” Bats moved swiftly overhead.
In his seat, his dark visor reflecting the console lights, the pilot felt more alive in his ship. It was as if he was born to fly and navigate the stars. The Manta was one with him and him with the Manta. He could feel the presence of the Others, the great Legion of Hosts. He could hear their Songs, and all strong, singing as one unified voice. Ahead of him was the great Pool of Stars, the Galaxy where all life started, where all the Farers came. He could hear their Songs, the great choir of the Universe, an opera carried in the cosmic winds.