The White Beast
A Homeworld Fanfiction
Originally posted April 26, 2001
The Annihilators were slow, slow machines. Even in cloaked mode, the Corsair quickly left the Unbound fleet behind, undetected.
“The slowness of the huge ships will buy us time, but only for a short while. We still do not have time to waste,” said the Fly self. The purple gate appeared, and the Corsair slipped through it.
When it appeared, two ships were waiting for them. The Fly assured them that the two ships were Beast, and the crystalline splotches on their sides told them that the ships were Firelance clones.
“Now your computers must be ready for a download,” said the Fly. The lights inside the Corsair darkened as the main computers temporarily overloaded from a massed influx of data. The lights recovered to their steady glow and the computers resumed normal functioning.
“You now have the data to mimic a White Beast ship,” the Fly said. Maalasi checked the computers. “You’re right!” he affirmed.
“Now transform,” the Fly said. The Corsair turned into a White Beast variant of an Ion Array frigate. “Pulsating electro-magnetic fields around the ship will serve as a barrier to prevent Starfarer psionic powers from detecting us. Now follow the other ships.”
The transformed Corsair turned to follow the Firelances. Ahead of them was the dim dying sun of Mohilim, its feeble red light struggling to shine through the nebulas of dark matter that orbit the star. It’s eruptive flares burn through the ionized gases trapped in the magnetic fields that surround the star, creatiing fiery auroras that raged through space thousands of times larger than entire worlds.
Seejuk stared at the scene ahead of him in awe. He uttered a prayer to the highest God of all gods, whom even the great Sajuuk was a mere servant, thankful for the beauty he saw and the wonder of natural creation. No Kushan, except for Giirsa here, and Kuo’ran somewhere out there, have ever seen the awe of such a sight, a star on the very edge of the Galaxy, the edge between the lightspace of the living and the darkspace that was the Void.
“There!” Zhura shouted, pointing the screen. “I can see them. The Nemesis fleet!” Indeed it was. Even at immense distances the Nemesis dreadnaughts can be seen with their distinct shapes. Based from their previous observation, the Nemesis dreadnaughts were bigger than an entire Turanic Outpost, except that these ships actually move on their own power. Zhura wondered if they would be caught again. But this time, they have taken precautions, and they were not alone. In vast linear formations, Nemesis fighters and frigates surrounded the large ships in protective screens. Zhura wondered if her father was still there, alive and healthy, and hoped for the farthest chance he can still be rescued.
“The ships are mobilizing,” Seejuk observed. “They know a big battle will be coming.”
“We do not have much time to waste,” the Fly said. The three frigates, the Corsair and the two escorting Beast frigates, passed innocently through patrols of Nemesis ships. The sleek forms of the Nemesis fighters was something Giirsa had grown to hate, the image of Kuo’ran in the moment of her madness had burned deep in his mind.
“Over there,” Zhura cried out, pointing to a new series of ships. They were like giant flowers, heat and light collectors with symmetrical panels that extend into space for miles. Like living creatures, monster ships draw matter using focused fields of gravity into their hungry maws, extended tentacles manipulating the gravity fields like vanes guiding the winds. “Energy and resource collectors of some kind,” Seejuk said. “These things must have gathered a lot.”
“There I see it now,” Zhura cried out again, much to the distraction of Maalasi who was piloting the ship. “Must be the White Beast battle fleet!”
There were rows and rows of the Taiidan style Heavy Corvettes, covered in pale white, one of the Beast’s most effective strike formations, supplemented by Kushan style HCs and Multigun Corvettes of both Kushan and Taiidan styles. There were pale white colored Brigands, then rows and rows of White Acolytes. These were no longer the Somtaaw type Acolyte, as the White Beast had long acquired the ability to clone Super Acolytes. The White Acolytes had been an effective dogfighter against the variety of colored Super Acolytes of the Unbound. They could also see rows and rows of Beast Interceptors, basically based on two kinds, a type based on the Turanic Bandit and the other, on the Taiidan Triikor. But the White Beast enhancments gave their own Bandit and Triikor clones a superior level of protection and regeneration over their originals, with a greater punch from energy cannons.
There were Beast ion frigates, both of the Kushan Firelance, the Taiidan Sajuuk-Cor and the Turanic Assasin variety. There was little Assault frigates however. But even the combined ion array frigates were outnumbered by huge numbers of Hive Frigates, cloned from the Somtaaw design and probably improved in some way.
Space bustled with activity. Seejuk noted the absence of resourcers based on the Somtaaw Worker and the Taiidan Resourcer class. Instead, the White Beast had resorted to using its own unique designs that must have been more efficient for it. They appeared like giant insects, or giant versions of the Fly self, buzzing around asteroids. There was something about the shimmering “wings” they use to propel themselves through space, as if the fields they create push directly against the space-time fabric. Huge grub like ships closedly followed these giant Flies, and the Grubs, which reminded Seejuk of Kadeshi Pods, must be resource controllers and processors.
Something huge loomed ahead of them. Seejuk remembered this one. He had seen it fire some sort of super siege cannon against the Unbound Annihilator back at the Turan sector, the giant vessel they call the Deliverer. It was a grostesque ship, a monster with a huge mouth, with tentacles around it to draw its prey. But the Deliverer does not use its mouth to eat; it uses it to fire that super seige cannon inside it. Its surface was mottled with white, crystalline patches that cover huge areas with a hexagonal matrice.
The Corsair and its two escorts passed through the formations of fighters and the Deliverer. It seemed as they went further ahead, the clouds of dark matter only grew thicker, as if their very destination must be hiding in the thickest of the clouds.
Indeed it must be. The ships travelled through increasingly thicker clouds, and the space around them became darker with every passing moment. Soon they could not see much light from the sun or the few stars near the system. The only lights were those from the escorting frigates, and the luminescent organs of the Fly and Grub selves, like deep undersea creatures searching for food.
There finally it loomed, like a small planet covered with a glowing crystalline surface that stood out from the darkness. It appeared not like pictures of the Naggarok, which was a huge mothership—this, the central vessel of the White Beast, was much much bigger, a virtual living moon.
“Welcome to the Core Self,” the Fly self said. “I assume that this ship could land on a planet surface?”
“Yes we do,” Seejuk replied.
“The internal cavity had been pressurized with the proper atmosphere of your breathing requirements,” the Fly said. “First we must fly hover through the openings and prepare for landing. We must proceed quickly”.
“Okay, guys. This is amazing. For a small moon, it is generating artificial gravity equivalent to a habitable planet. My sensors are indicating that the core has cavities that contain a breathable atmosphere.” Maalasi said. He pointed to the large cracks in the surface, like bottomless canyons where deep inside, something seethed. The canyons would have been dark, but the crystalline patches glowed, serving as markers for any craft that flew through them. They could see the Fly and Grub selves fly into and out of the canyons.
“I bet that’s where home is. Or the Hive, whatever you call it. Here we go, right into the bug nest,” Maalasi said. “Or perhaps, into the depths of hell.”
The ship disengaged its mimic form, and hit its retros. The Corsair descended into the canyons, the ship deftly avoiding the sharp spikes that lined the canyon’s walls.
“Excellent piloting skill. I didn’t know you had it in you,” Seejuk complemented Maalasi.
Maalasi replied. “In my younger days, I used to be a race pilot and engineer. Then I became older, had a family, and became a salesman. But I still have my skills.”
Somewhere inside, the Fly told them to stop. “It is close by. The Core Self. Prepare for landing. Prepare to receive, the Core Self.”
The Corsair sailed into the final cavity, the largest of them all. The Corsair fired its retros for the final time, and its docking legs deployed for landing. The Corsair landed on solid ground with a thud.
“We brought along space suits just in case, but my sensors are indicating a breathable atmosphere with the correct pressure,” Maalasi said.
“The Collective Selves have prepared the environment especially for you all,” said the Fly self.
“I probably bet you’re happy now,” Seejuk said to the Fly self.
“It has been a wish of mine to physically rejoin the Collective Selves. This is what you Flesh entities call home, and that is what the concept means to me. But we do not have time to waste as the peril grows near.”
They prepared to disembark from the Corsair, except for Maalasi who remained in the ship to keep tabs on the sensors and the computing systems. Maalasi immediately made scans, intent to analyze the advanced nanobot and droid technology the White Beast uses. As the hatch open, a cool wind blew in.
“Breathable, but kind of stale,” Seejuk commented about the atmosphere.
“What’s this?” Giirsa exclaimed, watching the large pale crystalline spiders and scorpions creeping near his feet. “Oh by the god Sajuuk!” he lamented, feeling ill at the sight of the articulate multilegged creatures that glow eerily at the dark. As he examined the caverns more, he found the creatures creeping up the walls and ceilings. Several of the creatures perched on top of the crystal spires and shards, staring at the flesh bound visitors with caution and curiosity.
“These are Repair selves. Without them, the Collective Selves cannot repair and regenerate the matrix,” the Fly self explained. The Fly fluttered like a luminescent fairy around both Seejuk and Zhura, which both of whom the creature seemed to have gained a fondness of.
Then it finally appeared. A huge matrix of honeycombs that appeared to stretch by the miles, each cell glowing with their own bioluminescence. “The is the Core Self, which all the Collective Selves are linked,” said the Fly.
Three figures stood there.
“ZHA!” Seejuk shouted, as one of the girls started running to him.
“I am so glad to see you all,” Zha cried as she hugged her dear friend that stood by her for so long.
Giirsa and Zhura ran to the other girl, for they recognized her as Kuo’ran. Giirsa was happy to see her healthy and sane. “I am so glad to see you. You’re not crazy anymore, are you?” he asked, as he stroked Kuo’ran’s head.
“Oh, it’s good to see you all. You’ve all come to save us,” Kuo’ran shouted in glee. “To answer your question, no I’m not crazy anymore. I got my soul back, I thiink, thanks to the White Beast here. It rescued us from being zombies of that creepy guy X’on.”
“I was worried about you,” Seejuk said, as he stroked Zha on the head.
“No…I was the one really worried about you, Seejuk. I thought there would be nothing left of you all squeezed between the crossfire of the Unbound and the Nemesis.”
Seejuk noticed something about Zha. Her skin was crystalline marked with a hexagonal pattern, and her eyes were a mosaic. Giirsa also quickly let go of Kuo’ran, when he saw the same thing.
“You, you’re not Zha,” Seejuk dropped his hands in surprise and horror. “Are you?”
“I am her, or as you see, I am a Self now, at least temporarily. Oh I’m sorry,” Zha said. “My real body is still there, being repaired from the neurological damage caused by Nemesis. And so is Kuo’ran’s. As the Selves will explain, I am loaning this form right now for the duration of the healing process. When our bodies are all healed up, I can return to my original bodies.”
Seejuk, Zhura and Giirsa walked over to what seemed like two crystal encasements. There they could see through the thick transparent fiber reinforced casings, the two flesh bodies of Zha and Kuo’ran, both sleeping like babies. Zhura brought a medical scanner with her and scanned the bodies. “Life signs are okay. We got a regular hearbeart, regular pulse, proper body temperature, and brainwaves on an REM dream state.”
“Somehow, my mind may be linked from my real body to this Self body,” Kuo’ran said. “That may explain the brainwave activity. The whole phenomenon is quite interesting, actually. I can’t explain the technology and how they did it, but they did it. This body is amazing. It could live through vacuum, and see a greater range of the spectrum. I can see a bit of heat itself and a bit of the ultraviolet. I can percieve magnetic fields. Since the discovery of my Starfarer senses, I could percieve the psionic and magnetic energies that run throughout the cosmos, as if the stars were alive themselves. But this body, the senses are intense, seeing the universe through different wavelengths, through different fields.”
“At least you can still think, Kuo’ran,” Giirsa laughed. “Now I know it’s you and that you’re not crazy. I thought you looked cool in the silver bathing suit the Nemesis gave to you, but you looked even cooler in that creeply glowing thing you are in now.”
“Stop kidding, Giirsa! I’m not kidding. I got my own theories here, all derived from first hand experience. This White Beast, this creature, it is evolving to a new pure stellar life form, one that can live purely on vaccum, travel through space without a ship, and subsist on the material resources and energy it can find. This is why the Unbound fears this new creature; the White Beast will evolve to a superior state, a form that is truly unbound to both flesh, planets and even spacecraft.”
For a moment, Kuo’ran reflected. “It is ironical indeed, Giirsa, that we travelled so far to search for clues on the origins of sentient life, but instead discovered where life is ultimately evolving.
“You are correct,” a voice said. “We are evolving, even at this very moment. We await our final form, and with that, our rebirth.” It was the third figure, coming down from the steps.
The face was familiar, and he had seen this picture in the Mule archives and on Zha’s command console aboard that ship. “Is that who and what I think it is?” Seejuk asked.
“It is my father, Zerun Khor. Or at least, the White Beast facsimile of him. My real father died, but the Beast cloned his memories and personality into this Self.”
“So the White Beast can take all the memories and the personality essence of all the people the Beast had infected, clone and resurrect them into these new forms, these selves,” Seejuk observed. He looked arond in the vast cavern hall. Each cell in the honeycomb, there were people in them. At least not human or flesh and blood, but each was like Zha, Kuo’ran and Zerun. Seeing all these bodies was like a vast cemetary, where the dead was ready to reawaken.
“We cannot return whom the Beast had so unjustly removed from the stream of life,” the Zerun self explained. “But in our own way, we can partly resurrect the essence of all those who were taken by creating them to a new life.”
Zhura seemed to be the odd one left. It was her question that remained unanswered. “We have recovered Kuo’ran and Zha, but what about my father? What about my father?”
Zerun turned to Zhura. “Your father is all right at the moment. But he is not in our hands, as he is still with the Nemesis. While we cannot guarantee his safety or rescue, we will seek means for his safe retrieval.”
“Please I ask of you, help him,” Zhura begged.
“Please, please,” the Fly self said. “We do not have time to lose. The Unbound will soon be upon us. We must deal with the nodes.”
Maalasi talked through the comlink to Zhura, Seejuk and Giirsa. “Way ahead of you. I have been doing scans, and we have found devices foreign to the Beast matrix. At least foreign to them, since the devices are familiar to us. Raider technology.”
Zhura turned to the Zerun self. “Our Raider technology is primitive compared to what I see the White Beast is capable of, why can’t you resolve the nodes yourself?”
“It is precisely because it is primitive,” the Zerun self explained. “The design makes no sense to us. It’s flaws and logical contradictions baffle us. It is a design conceived by the flesh bound, and only understood by the flesh bound.”
“A node is nearby,” the Zerun self explained. “We can get to it for your examination.”
“Okay then, let’s get to work,” Seejuk said. “We’ll need to get our tools first.” After a minute, Seejuk, Giirsa and Zhura returned from the ship carrying bags of various equipment.
The node was large black egg as big as two humans. Its surface was a black mirror like metal similar to the coating the Nemesis uses on their ships, except that it was glossy not satin.
“The coating resists our touch,” the Zerun self explained. Sparks flew out alarmingly as he held his hand close to the egg’s surface.
“Primarily because it was intended to protect against silicate based life forms such as you,” Zhura said. She put her hand on its surface and nothing happened. “Obviously it was only meant to be handled by its flesh bound creators.” She felt around the egg. “There must be an access panel around here. Found it. Give me some hands.”
Seejuk and Giirsa bent over to lift the panel out from the surface of the egg. “Interesting. It’s one of the Harkk’hah’s commercial designs that the For’lym must have purchased or cloned. The Harkk’hah are the best programmers and computer engineers of all the Raiders, and even the For’lym trust their high caliber equipment. They wanted the best, they got the best. Harkk’hah serial numbers, but with For’lym ownership labels on…you got that Maalasi?”
“Got it,” Maalasi said. “The egg is one node of several. I see a vast redundant computing network here, each interfaced to the nervous infrastructure of the White Beast. Okay, I got the operating system right here, and it’s also Harkk’hah OS. Should be easy to break. Correction, Zhura, the Harkk’hah are only second best; the Soo’nani will come out with superior computer models.”
“I got it too,” Zhura said. “I got the interface right now. By the way, Maalasi, this is not the time to sell next year’s computer models.”
“Whatever, and what makes you think I’m selling new computers, I am merely stating a fact….now, the nodes are designed to induce certain signals against the White Beast’s internal network,” Maalasi explained. “With the proper signals, it can induce a whole range of stimuli from pain, to sadness, to anger and pleasure. It’s no different from a human emotional or hallucigenic inducing implant, except that this is on a giant scale, and tuned to the synapse frequencies used by the White Beast internal network.”
Zhura began teaching Seejuk and Giirsa some of the simpler aspects of the navigating through the Harkk’hah designed operating system. Soon the two Kushans got the basic idea and were moving through the operating system like pros.”
“Any attempt to dislodge, remove, or destroy the nodes will result in intense pain to the White Beast, perhaps death by frying its central nervous system,” Maalasi explained. “Each egg draws electrical energy from the White Beast, then stores and amplifies them into a focused electromagnetic pulse. I saw we must be careful.”
“Tough call,” Seejuk said.
“Not if we disable the main control application instead,” Giirsa said. “If the application is disabled, the nodes can be left for dead. or we may crash the entire network operating system. But there is awfully tight security here. I see firewalls inside firewalls. The application is spread redunantly throughout the nodes, and ditto with the server OS. Pure human paranoid redundancy to the ninth level. Security designed to confuse. Algorhythms that made no sense. No wonder the White Beast cannot fathom it. Nonetheless, the Kaalel are the best hackers of Hiigara, and I will break the best the Hakk’hah has to offer. Time to demonstrate what we could do….” Girrsa rolled his sleeves up.
Giirsa’s fingers began to aggressively type the keyboard of the portable terminal, like a maestro out to compose his finest music. Then he suddenly stopped, looking baffled.
“It does not look like good news,” Seejuk said.
“As usual, Giirsa Kaalel, even in the farthest corner of the galaxy, you are still a load of hot air,” Kuo’ran lectured.
“Aw shutup, Kuo’ran! Even if you’re in a Beast body, you’re still a lecturing bitch. Apparently, not even the power of the White Beast can remove that from you,” Giirsa retorted.
“Give me a terminal, and I will show you a S’jet’s superior computer expertise!” Kuo’ran boasted.
“Well I think I’m going to pitch in and help hacking,” Zha said, taking a spare portable terminal and placing it on her lap. “No use sitting around, waiting for the Unbound to blow me to pieces while you two argue.”
Giirsa looked to Zhura. “Maybe you can come over here to my terminal and help me more discern the various indigenous aspects of the Harkk’hah operating system.” Zhura rolled her eyes, crawled next to Giirsa, and placed her hands on the same keyboard as his hands. The other hand began pointing at the screen, as she began her explanations.
“Excuse me while I recite a prayer before I hack,” Seejuk said.
“Do you think we have made a right choice?” the Fly self communicated to the Zerun self.
“It was a gamble to use these people, but we have no choice,” the Zerun self said. “Our fate now rests on their competence…or incompetence…”