The White Beast
A Homeworld Fanfiction
Originally posted April 26, 2001
The festivities over, the immense Raider armada that settled around the Turan planetoid began to depart, each fleet and task force, on to their own business. Compared to the noise the festivities brought, the departures was peaceful and quiet. As the Turan planetoid itself, it has settled back to its ordinary day to day business. The hawkers, as usual, remained to peddle their wares, as the planetoid represents an important trading post in this wild frontier of the galaxy. Mercenaries from all over the Galaxy and of all races, and not just of Raider persuasion, began to return to the planetoid, searching for job opportunities. The parking space of the planetoid as well as its docking bay, began to swamped by all sorts of unidentifiable craft from all over the galaxy. The Mule stayed. There was still some unfinished business.
A Flo’karr worker led Seejuk, Zha, Kuo’ran, Giirsa and Zhoan into the bowels of the planetoid, and there, the long age of the planetoid began to show. The tunnels were crudely cut out of the rock, then the surfaces glazed with what must be a hot torch into a glasslike surface to trap the air. The air was pungent like a crypt, there was a smell of methane and ammonia, and the ventilation tubes leaked with brown clouds. The ventilation and electrical equipment looked vintage, Seejuk thought, something like one would see in Kharak a hundred years before the Mothership launched. Yet Seejuk thought, it’s possible that this equipment here may be thousands of years old. As they passed by the tunnels, lit by inefficient incandescent devices, a few people walked by them, and Seejuk guessed they to be maintenance engineers.
The worker led them to a large room that was a contrast of all sorts; full of high technology equipment and ancient decrepit relics. Seejuk hungrily eyed at the relics, wondered at the secrets they hid, and when he looked around, he saw the same hunger on the eyes of Giirsa and Kuo’ran. Kuo’ran in particular, could not get her hands off on all the small assorted relics.
“That was something that once belonged to your race,” Salim said, his entrance unnoticed by the Kushan guests. “Navigational orb, Early Kushan Imperium. Orbs like these tell an important story of our ancient histories. For one, these orbs contain star maps that describe the extent of an empire and a log of the worlds the ship that carried it visited. These orbs are the heart of early intragalactic navigation.”
“You mean?” Giirsa asked.
“Yes, Kushan Imperium. Long before it fell to the Taiidans. This orb was during its expansion phase, thousands of years before the fall. That other relic here, is a non functional hand weapon, coming from the era of the second Taiidan emperor. It makes a good technological assessment. Other items here come from all over: this one here is Early Frerrn Aggregate. That one there is a king’s helmet from the primitive period of the Quo’nas, a trading group that used to a xenophobic warlike race. The evolution of the Quo’nas from a warring race to a peaceful one is quite interesting.”
“I see that I have come to the right person and the right place,” Giirsa said. “Compared to you and your work, we are like babies. Our people have just begun to rediscover its galactic heritage. The Kaalel Heritage Foundation, which I am the Vice Chairman, have begun several excavations around Hiigara to uncover more about the history of the Taiidan and Kushan Empires. “
“Then you will discover more,” Salim said. “After the Fall of Hiigara, both Taiidans and Turanics looted the planet dry, leaving only the ruins. Many of Kushan artifacts do survive with the Taiidan museums, as well as with us.”
“I do wonder,” Giirsa proposed, “that for a generous sum, the Kaalel Heritage Foundation would desire to purchase many of your relics.”
“History cannot be bought, my friend,” Salim said. “The relics here are not for me to sell. Whoever and what their original owners are, they are now part of Raider history. However, this does not mean I will stop you from examining them. In the future, our peoples can work out an exchange where your scholars can examine our relics, and our scholars can study your relics and ruins. “
“So typical of you, Giirsa, that you think money is the root of everything,” Kuo’ran said.
“Money is truly the root of everything,” Giirsa said. “Ask your Raider friends.”
Salim turned to Kuo’ran. “Is this the young lady related to the Karan Sjet, the commander of the Kushan mothership? We have photos of her, and you look like her. Your family resemblance is very strong. I am honored to be in the presence of someone so closely related to the leader of the Exiles that brought down the last Taiidan Emperor.” He bowed and the gesture made Kuo’ran blushed.
“I see, Father, your charm with the young ladies has not abetted with age,” Zhura said, who had also entered the room unnoticed. She turned to the Kushans. “I feel your reason for coming here has nothing to do about purchasing or renting our relics.”
“Indeed it is not. We will discuss mutually beneficial cultural exchanges later. Right now we have a primary agenda. We are in a pursuit of a theory—“
“The ProtoGenesis…” Salim interrupted.
“How do you know?” Giirsa asked.
“We are a very attentive group, and academic developments get to us quickly. What you call ProtoGenesis is not a new theory for the Taiidans, or for us, or for any of the older races of the Galaxy. I often lectured such an idea to the younger scribes.”
“Indeed, then you are the right person to come to,” Giirsa said. “Tell us more. I have a model of a relic here, obtained from the Kadeshi.” Giirsa took out a device, and it projected a faithful three dimensional model of a sword.
“The Blade of Hannon, as it is called by the Kadeshi. It was said to have been captured as a trophy from a race the Kadeshi called the Blasphemous.”
Salim examined the sword. He uttered a phrase. “Ceremonial sword, First Imperium. How did the Kadeshi ever got this relic? The First Imperium demised long before the Exiles came to the Gardens. “
“I guess the fleet that attacked them in the Gardens had this,” Giirsa said. “What is the First Imperium anyway? How do you know that it is from this First Imperium?”
Salim pointed to the strange archaic writings carved throughout the length of the blade. Kuo’ran bent to examine the writings, and then adjusted her spectacles.
“The writing there is similar to the writing I have on this orb!” Kuo’ran said, reaching into her bag to pull out another holo-modeller. She activated the modeller, and it created a large blue orb out of the air. “This was a relic found in the Kadeshi mothership, the Khar’nak. It is currently in the Academy of Archeological Studies which—” Kuo’ran stared Giirsa at the eye “—was founded by the Sjet-sa, and by my aunt, Karan.”
“…and which if you have not forgotten, is also financed by the Kaalel Heritage Foundation,” said Giirsa.
“I remember the orb,” Seejuk said. “I was the one who cataloged it. Don’t you remember it, Zha?”
Zha nodded. “I do. It’s a navigational tool of some kind.”
“Yes, but not just a navigational orb. This orb happened to described an empire with at least 2,000 star systems instead of just 150,” Kuo’ran said. “This is an empire more than 12 times larger than the Taiidan Empire at its full extent. Is this empire the First Imperium?”
Salim bent to examine the orb. “This findings by itself are remarkable. What is more remarkable is how the Kadeshi are able to get them, considering they are, in the time scale of the races involved, quite a youthful race. Remember that the Raiders, that we, the People who drift with the Winds, have a history far longer than the Taiidan and the Kushan, and that we, have a history that links us to the First Imperium. What are the agings of the orb and the blade?”
“The blade is no older than the Kadeshi,” said Giirsa. “We have dated it.”
“According to the Academy, the Orb would have been made no earlier than when the Exiles first settled the Garden,” said Kuo’ran.
“Impossible!” Salim shouted. He stood up and started to pace about. “The Kadeshi is no more than 3,000 years old. The Imperium was at least 10,000 years old. The First Imperium perished long before the Kushans started their own Empire, and that lasted quite a while before the Kushan Dynasty fell to the Taiidans. The Dark Ages stood between the fall of the First Imperium and the rise of the first Kushan Emperor, and that was also a signiificant amount of time.”
“What the hell is the First Imperium?” asked Seejuk.
“I will tell you,” Salim said. “But these things…the orb and the blade, these are proof that there are those who survived the Imperium, that the Imperium still secretly exists long after its purported demise, long after its stories have faded into myth and legend. I am right! Then the Prophecies are indeed true. The First Imperium never died…and by the gods of the stars, they will come back.”
“What the hell is the First Imperium, old man?” Seejuk asked again.
Salim turned to Zha. “I sense you, the Segura of Khor. You have the same powers as your father. Even though I am not gifted with one, meditations have trained my senses to detect a Starfarer in our midst. ” Salim turned to the rest of them. “To understand the First Imperium is to understand who the Starfarers really were.”
“I remember, the Tiamat told me,” said Zha. “They told me and the priestess G’yela of Kadesh, who led the Crusade.”
“Is G’yela a Starfarer among the Kadesh?” asked Salim.
“Yes she is,” Zha affirmed.
“Your G’yela is only aware of her powers, but not of her ancestral origin,” said Salim. “If she was a descendant of a Starfarer, then the Starfarers had one time tried to enter the Great Nebula. There is no better proof of that event than the Orb and the Blade you see now. They, the Starfarers, invaded the Gardens and survivors among them were left to live in the Gardens, where generations later, one of their descendents—the Priestess G’yela—would surface and lead the Kadeshi out of the Nebula.”
“Fascinating theory, old man, ” Seejuk said, “So are you implying that there is a connection here between the Starfarers and the First Imperium?”
“The First Imperium was founded by the Starfarers,” said Salim. Salim turned to Giirsa and Kuo’ran. “You speak of the ProtoGenesis theory. This is a theory that has many followers among the scientific elite of the Galaxy. It speaks that all human life originated from a single planet, which is now long forgotten in the antiquity of prehistory. But there is a twist to that story… and you, Zha Khor, you know.”
“The Unbound came to this planet,” Zha explained. “There are those among the Unbound who saw the women. They fell in love with them, came down to the planet, and bred with them. For that the Unbound exiled them, and they became Bound like the ones they love. Their seed would become part of that race. These descendants, these hybrids, have the power like the Unbound to sense the stars and the solar winds they make. When the time came, the people of this planet began to explore the stars, these descendants, the first Starfarers, led the way…”
“And what a way they led,” said Salim. “The Starfarers paved the way to the beginnings of the First Imperium… The ability to sense the stars and hear their songs was a decisive advantage to the Starfarers, enabling them to expand faster and conquer more territory than any other stellar race. Soon they subjugated all that they saw. Even those among their own race, they enslaved.”
“This is where the history of the Belters, the Drifters—the ancestors of the Raiders—would arise. We do not know originally where our origins lie or that we even share the same origins. All we know from the very start that we were once slaves to the Starfarer Imperium race we call now as the Nemesis. Our original cultures and origins were all erased and left without a memory, to serve as mindless tools for the Imperium.”
“So the Oath the Raider nobilities took…you recreate this history…” Kuo’ran said.
“You have been observant, yes…” Salim replied. “Baruk was a Starfarer who could not take all the injustices of his kind. He gathered other ‘Farers who saw the same as he did, like your ancestor, Zha, Mazath Khor. He also gathered the tribal leaders of those that were enslaved. They made an Oath of unity, and launched a rebellion that would lead to the liberation of all slaves.”
“But even that would not be enough against the sheer power of the Imperium. As atrocities increased, the Imperium clashed with the Unbound. The Imperium thought that the Unbound was the last remaining obstacle to complete domination. The Great War of the Heavens broke out. It was war so terrible, billions perished and whole worlds were destroyed. The Imperium was destroyed, and the Nemesis was cast out of the galaxy, which legends say, were sent into the nether regions between the galaxies.”
“We won our freedoms, but not necessarily our home, for we will never know where we originally came from. Our history started only with the day of our liberation. From then on, we were homeless. As the Imperium fragmented, new civilizations rose to contend for territory, and we somehow never found the place where we should be. We were often hunted down, and forced to fight for our survival. We had to make allies to defeat our enemies.”
‘Our prophecies taught that one day, the Nemesis would return. But our history is so old, there are even those who disbelieved that the Nemesis ever existed.”
As he talked, Zhura was working on her own presentation. She signaled by hand that her work was completed. “We have made a collection of unidentified sightings of strange alien craft, often sighted near the Border Rims. There are hardly any stars there that can harbor a native interstellar civilization. Our leaders have refused to acknowledge them as the Nemesis, citing only they can be a new previously unidentified stellar race.”
“As my father was discussing, I have been photographing the script in the blade and in the navigational orb, and comparing them with the script often seen with these unidentified craft.”
“Wait …wait, I don’t get this,” Giirsa interrupted. “We came here looking for the secrets of the Universe, and now you’re talking like they’re out to get us.”
Zhura didn’t want to honor Giirsa’s interruption. She bent over and clicked on the hologram machines.
Models of unknown fighters came into view, hovering and rotating in space. The first had large extended wings and a tail, the second one had shorter, triangular wings, with a short tail, and the third had extended wings that swept forward. The fighters were all smoothly designed and sleek, a sign of an advanced race with excellent engineering, and yet hungry like predators.
“These are 3D models of ships sighted in unprovoked attacks throught out the Outer and Border Rim sectors. Some of these attacks have proven deadly, resulting in the loss of a number of fighter craft, freighters and resource miners.”
Zhura slowed one of the images, then zoomed in to the inscriptions in the fighter’s wings.
“Recognize that? Now match it to the holo of the blade you brought.” Zhura zoomed to the inscriptions in the blade. “Now match it to the symbols in the navigational orb.” Zhura zoomed through the transparent orb and into tiny symbols that marked every star. “Recognize that too?’
“The symbols are similar, and some of the symbols, which we can theorize are letters, are identical,” Zhura said.
“Let’s follow the logic here,” said Seejuk. “If these fighters are here right now, with us, and they may belong to the Imperium civilization, so we can assume somewhere in the borderspace or rimspace, there might still be survivors of the Imperium, set up in a civilization somewhere.”
“Our knowledge of the Imperium is very limited, despite the pivotal role it played in our history,” Salim said. “We do not have enough artifacts and historical records to recreate an accurate model of this civilization and its technology. The passage of time has been too long for such preservations. The items you see from the Kadeshi are treasure, but you did mention they were attacked in their history by these. If an Imperium civilization exists, then it may not act benevolently, if they are capable of attacking the Kadeshi. They may also know more about us than we do about them, sending scouts and spies all over the knownspace. All this is just hypothetical, but we must examine every possibility.”
“If this civilization still exists, we must discover them,” Girrsa said. “Direct contact is the only way we can expand our knowledge about the very root of our existence.”
“This is one of those times I have to agree with you,” Kuo’ran added.
“We have been pinpointing all the occurrences and sightings of these strange new craft, and I think we can interpolate a hypothetical location we can expect to go,” said Zhura.
“Go?” asked Seejuk.
“I doubt that the Sha would let us have a Seeker class vessel for an exploratory journey,” said Salim.
“Yes after the theatrics my father done in front of the Council,” Zhura added.
“Sounds like a job for the Mule,” Seejuk injected. He turned to Zha, whose frown in the face voiced a silent concern.
“Zha, this is an opportunity to discover what being a Starfarer truly means. It means discovering the roots of your power and hidden heritage. You should be excited about this.”
Zha answered. “I just have a bad feeling about this. I don’t know why. Just a bad feeling.”
“You have an uncanny intuition, Zha, and I respect it,” Seejuk said. “However that meant we must come only more prepared and with greater caution. We cannot let fear nor the unknown stop us.”
“I know,” Zha admitted.
“I want to go too,” Salim said. “I must go. This may potentially be the greatest discovery in Raider history for a long time. I will not be denied of that moment.”
“I was about to propose the same thing,” Giirsa added. “We need an expert with us on the voyage.”
“Where my father goes, I go,” Zhura said. “I’m his assistant and he needs someone to take care of him.”
“Naturally,” Girrsa added.
“Zha could be right, and this is supported by the evidence we have seen. This may be potentially dangerous,” Salim remarked. “I am not sure I am willing to risk you, my daughter on this venture.”
“And the Kushan Seejuk is right,” replied Zhura. “I’m still a Raider by heart even though I’m a scribe that buries herself in books. You will disgrace me if you left me behind due to some fear. Dangers we must face together. I cannot shrink from the challenge.”
“Then it’s all settled,” Kuo’ran said. “We have a journey ahead of us.”
“However, I do have some reservations about bringing the two important Kiithsa scions in a potentially dangerous journey,” said Seejuk.
“If you are worrying about your responsibility to me and Kuo’ran,” Giirsa said, “that’s noble of you, but I think we both are old enough to think for ourselves.”
“Yes, we go!” Kuo’ran shouted. “Like Salim, I will not be denied.”
“Put that in writing, you two, and at least, make your intentions known to your parents and relatives,” Seejuk warned, knowing better not to argue with two spoiled and persistent young adults. “At least you owe them that. We can arrange to have the message sent through subspace.”
Zha slowly stood up. “I guess we have a journey to prepare. Seejuk, I think in the meantime we got some business with the Soonani we need to take care off.”
Seejuk smiled as he nodded.