The Kadeshi Crusade – Chapter 20 – The Last Song and Planetfall

Chapter 19 | Landing Page | Chapter 21

The Kadeshi Crusade

A Homeworld Fanfiction

by Crobato

Originally posted May 15, 2001

Chapter 20 – The Last Song and Planetfall

The songs filled the hollowed rooms and reverberated across the ancient walls. M’jor stood in the deck of the Khar’kusha, the music inspiring his spirit, calming his tension, doubts and fears. The Holiness sings for Kadesh once again. He hoped it would not be the last time.

He thought, was this the very bridge the White Emperor stood millennia ago as they face the hordes of Defilers? If this was so, these decks were the most sacred places, yet there was a sense of mortality in them. The White Emperor was not much different from him, to have stood this very same bridge, won his victories and to finally end in defeat. If the White Emperor was not much different from him, then so was the Great Mother that served in His Service. He must not let these blasphemous thoughts filled his mind—the battle is ahead, faith must be strong—yet the doubts linger. He wondered indeed if Her Holiness the Mother Superior G’yela knew anything about this.

“We got the coordinates for the gravwell defense line. They got gun pods and repair corvettes covering the Gravwells.” said the sensors officer.

M’jor studied the screen. The defense line would stop all the probe and pod bombs on their tracks, and would massacre the first wave of Swarmers. Already the enemy gunpods have detonated several probe bombs from the first wave.

“Prepare to fire all Siege Cannons against the defensive line!” M’jor ordered.

“But your Supremacy, if we fire the cannons we won’t have anything to hit their capital ships!” one of the officers said.

“If we don’t breach that defense line, they would have neutralized our greatest advantage—our Swarmers,” M’jor replied.

“We got coordinates and ready to fire, Your Supremacy.”

“Fire,” M’jor ordered. A brilliant ball of light came out from the Khar’kusha, then three other balls from the Khar’ramsis, Khar’seth, and Khar’osis. The balls sped past the first wave of Swarmers and into the defensive line of gravwells and gunpods. The shockwaves tore huge holes across the defensive rings orbiting the planet.

“Swarmer wave penetrating the first line of defenses, Sir!” the tactical officer shouted from his console aboard the Assault Carrier Baal-Haasim .

“By the name of Sajuuk, damn!” shouted Admiral G’aas Paktu. “And cut that infernal music!””

“I can’t, Sir, the Kadeshi are drowning our com wave frequencies with it! Sir, the Swarmers are targeting our Supply and Repair ships!”

“Get Defenders and Sentinels of Delta Wing to cover these ships!” G’aas ordered. “If we lose them, we’re going to die easy.”

“We got coordinates for the enemy Siege Cannons, Sir!” said the sensors officer.

Damn, the enemy has not just one, but four Siege Cannons this time. G’aas had no time to speculate where they got the cannons, but the Karos Graveyards would be a good guess. Elimination of the cannons were the priority.

“Send the coordinates to Strike Wing Alpha, and tell them to hit them now!” G’aas ordered.

Aboard a Beam Acolyte, the pilot got his instructions. From his left and his right, the rows of Beam Acolytes extended as far as the eye an see.

“Alpha Leader, Alpha Leader, coordinates acknowledged. Standby for engagement,” the pilot replied. He flicked four red switches in his panel, and the turbines whirled, gathering revolutions.

“This is Alpha Leader. Beta, Sigma, and Gamma wings, cover us. I repeat cover us!”

“This is Beta Leader, acknowledge Alpha Leader.” Beta leader watched over shoulder, as the formation of Triikor Mark IIs powered up their engines.

“This is Gamma Leader, ready when you are, Alpha Leader.” The Acolytes widened their parade formation, as they shift into a delta formation.

“This is Sigma Leader, we’re ready to party, Alpha Leader.” The Blade Mk. 6 Interceptors powered their engines, and moved close to Alpha Wing.

“Alpha Wing, this is Alpha Leader. it’s time to rumble!”

“Yahoo!” shouted the Beam Acolyte pilot. He pushed up the short slick lever, and the engines poured. As the blue ionic trails left the fighter, the pilot’s back was forced strongly against his seat. More of the Beam Acolytes fired their engines, and the whole formation gathered speed like a giant wave. Behind them, the line of Acolytes fired their engines, and then Blade and followed by the Triikors, all leaving long trails of glowing ions.

“This is Alpha Leader, we got boogies at six o’clock.”

“This is Beta leader, turning to engage.” The Triikors banked, heading head on against the formation of Advanced Swarmers. The two formations met each other so fast that several fighters collided with each other, exploding into balls of flame. Below them, the Acolytes were already engaged in furious furball with a formation of Swarmers.

“This is Alpha Leader, we got target on sight. Heading into attack run.” The Beam Acolyte banked, followed by its wingmate, and then the entire row in delta formation. The massive ship loomed ahead, looking more like a Kushan battleship than a Kadeshi Needleship.

‘This one looks more like one of ours than theirs,” said one of the pilots in the comlinks.

“This is Alpha Leader. There is no mistake in the the coordinates given and that is our target.” The Beam Acolytes dived into the ancient battleship.

“Boogies 12 o’clock,” warned one of the pilots, as Advanced Swarmers dived into their position.

“Hold on course,” said Alpha Leader. “Beta Wing will take care of that.”

Beta Wing was a bit late as the Swarmers cut three of the Acolytes into flaming balls. “Hold steady,” said Alpha Leader, the hull of the Khar’kusha looming in his sights. “Steady…steady…now!” He pressed the trigger and the ion beam latched at the hull. Smoke and fire spewed out where the part of the armor was vaporized. More Beam Acolytes fired, their beams torching against the ancient metal of the battleship.

“AAAAH—!” screamed a pilot as his riddled Acolyte smashed into the battleship’s hull, a Swarmer close behind it.

Looming from a distance were ion trails from a fresh attack wing. “This is Kappa Wing Leader. Target on sight, target on sight.” The Taiidani Kaark Attack bombers rolled, then dived into battleship, discharging their bombs. Explosions marred the whole length of the massive ship.

“Wingman, wingman, down!” cried one of the Attack bombers. “There is a Swarmer at my six! I can’t shake him off my tail! Aaagh!”

Alpha Leader barreled rolled, putting the Swarmer in his sights. He squeezed the trigger and the beam connected to the hull of the Swarmer, vaporizing it instantly. “Thank you! Thank you!” said the pilot in the Kaark, as he rolled away. But suddenly there were three red dots in Alpha Leader’s screen, in standard Swarmer trinary formation. “This is Alpha Leader, I got boogies in my tail. Requesting assistance.”

“We got you, Alpha Leader,” acknowledged a pilot as his a Triikor Mark II rushed to his position. “Count me in!,” said another pilot in a Blade Mk.6.

Alpha Leader twisted and turned skillfully as the three Swarmers fired at him, the shots narrowly missing under the Beam Acolyte’s belly. “Got one!” shouted the pilot in the Triikor Mk2, as triple railguns blasted through the Swarmer. “Smoked one boogie!” shouted the pilot in the Blade Mk6, as a careful placed energy cannon shot crashed through the second Swarmer’s hull.

But the third Swarmer was a tough one. An Advanced Swarmer, it kept gaining on Alpha Leader despite the Acolyte’s full boost. It’s four cannons rippled its fire, and the shells tore through the belly of the Beam Acolyte. The Acolyte rolled uncontrollably, Alpha Leader screaming, then bursted into a fireball.

Not far away, the Baal-Haasim shook as Beam Swarmers raked its thick armor with mini ion cannons. Turrets from the carrier took out two of the Beam Swarmers. Pests! G’aas thought.

Elsewhere, there was evidence that G’aas new defensive strategy were not working as he thought. Missile Swarmers straddled a helpless Field Frigate assigned near the carrier, the field ineffective against the new missiles and beams the Kadeshi strike wings were equipped with. With the Kadeshi focused so much in eliminating anti-fighter defenses such as Gravwells and Field Frigates, the alternative to battling their main strike forces was to directly use strike craft in head to head battle.

The Field Frigate blew into thousands of debris. It’s destroyers, a pack of hungry Missile and Beam Swarmers, rolled to begin their attack run on their next target—the Baal-Haasim. Suddenly three of the Swarmers exploded, as a pack of Taiidan Heavy and Multigun Corvettes ripped their gunfire across the Swarmers’ path. The rest of the vengeful Swarmers turned their attention on the Corvettes with high speed strafing passes.

Oblivious the chaos outside, G’aas watched the immense main battlescreen. More and more of the strike force reserves were being committed, and the main capital ship fleets were about to converge. “I need that flagship. Find the enemy flagship!” G’aas ordered.

Aboard the mix of Taiidan and Kushan ion beam frigates, crews watched their sensors tensely as packs of Multibeam frigates appear from out of the sensor fog.

“Steady, steady, don’t fire just yet,” the commander of the Allied frigate wall said, watching the enemy frigates creep into firing range. The commander watched the brow of the leading enemy Multibeam Frigate, and he swallowed a lump in his throat. It is as if aboard that other ship, the enemy was staring at him just as intensely. He mustn’t let his fear get to him…must concentrate. “Four…Three…Two..One…fire at will!”

The Kadeshi Multbeam frigates and the Allied Beam frigates fired nearly the same. In seconds, the Allied command frigate was incinerated and so was the lead Kadeshi frigate. The commander did not even see or feel the moment of his disintegration. The frigates continued to exchange at point blank range, some even ramming each other.

The second wave was a much looser formation of mixed Kushan Vengeance and Taiidan Kudaark Assault Frigates, with Dervish multibeam frigates. Assault Swarmers came upon them, subjecting them under devastating fire, but Defenders came in the nick of time to fiercely fight them off. They streamed past the first wave of Ion Beam frigates, heavily decimated by a fresh wave of Pod Bombs. The enemy Multibeam Frigates and Assault Pods were in packs of two and three, and converged on their formation.

“Keep firing and head for the rear maximum speed!” ordered the Commodore of the Allied formation. The Kadeshi Multibeam frigates torched a few lead Allied Frigates, but as the Allied ships fell beyond their cannon coverages, they barrel rolled. In the meantime, the Allied frigates maintained their full speed to the enemy rear, the excellent coverage of their cannons able to maintain lock on their targets, the continuous fire raking a heavy toll on their enemy. “Maintain the running battle,” the Commodore ordered, executing the so called G’aas tactic, a much more favorable method of dealing the formidable Kadeshi Multibeam frigate than with head on wall tactics.

Swarmers continued to harass the Allied frigates, but a third formation of Hive Frigates have launched a massive wave of Swarmer drones that quickly decimated the Swarmer strike wings. The drones turned their attention on the enemy Assault and Fuel Pods that were attempting to cover the Kadeshi Multibeamers. Now a bit wiser, Swarmers and Advanced Swarmers engage their namesake drones in a chaotic dogfight, as the Assault Pods turned their attention on the Hivers. The Hivers were not without teeth of their own, and opened their own potent medium mass drivers against the lethal medium cannons of the Assault and Fuel Pods in a gun to gun showdown.

This is shaping to become a massive battle of attrition, G’aas thought. They got superior technology and firepower but the Kadeshi seemed to have an inexhaustible supply of Swarmer strike craft. Even if they win this, their fleets would be so scarred they would be unable to defend themselves should another enemy arise. He is watching the cream and the heart of the Kushan and Taiidan fleets being destroyed. The need to strike decisively against the heart and soul of the enemy became more urgent every passing minute.

“We got Needleships coming in Sir!” said the sensors officer. The huge screens focused on the edge of the sensor fog, as the Needleships emerged from the mists ominously.

“Have you found the enemy flagship yet?” G’aas asked.

“Not yet Sir! The Needleships are coming into formation with the enemy derelic dreadnaughts, carriers, and cruisers. I think they’re going to rush us!” warned the tactical officer.

“They’re getting desperate!” said G’aas. “Order all Cruiser and Destroyer Fleets to engage the Needleships”. In a lower planet orbit lay the greatest accumulation of capital ship power since the war with the Beast. There were formations of Deacons and Archangels, Qwaar-Jet, Skaal-tels, and Skaal-fa, Avatar cruisers with Revelation and Perdition destroyers. Their massive engines began to rumble, as they slowly head to their looming, ominous targets.

This is finally the time of Judgement, thought M’jor, the time of Armageddon. Damage from the determined enemy strike wings have incapacitated the siege cannons, but the rest of the four Warrior dreadnaughts armaments were still capable and formidable. Fierce local defenses from Martyrs and Disciples decimated the enemy strike wings, and they were hurrying to repair the siege cannons. What they need is time, but the cream of the enemy capital ship fleet is heading to their position.

Yes, we will end this in glory, he thought. The Mother Superior’s song stilll reverberated in their ears, so stirring, so holy, so glorious. The sheer power of their spirit will make them prevail. O Holiest and the Most High, we offer our spirit in battle for Your Name, M’jor prayed. Into the maw of death we face, we shall emerge worthy and victorious, for the Unclean will be stricken with Your mighty sword.

“Order reserve strike wings to engage the main enemy capital ship fleet!” M’jor ordered. From the Apostle class Needleships and the Chosen class assault carriers came more Templars, Annointed and Crusader class strike swarmers.

The strike Swarmers formed into a loose formation, then lit their engines in three massive waves, their pilots singing, chanting and praying their glorious song, heading fearlessly at the huge capital ships, the might of the enemy. Furious defenses took an immeasurable amount of their number, yet they bravely pressed on, unleashing their deadly cargos on the giant ships.

G’aas watched mesmerized on the battle screens when the sensors officer crudely interrupted him. “Sir! I finally got it. The Flagship!”

“Triangulate its position!” G’aas ordered.

“We got it, and on the screens, sir!” the officer replied.

The giant Needleship slowly emerged out of the sensor fog, menacing, with a light escort.

The tactical officer completed his calculations. “I think it’s heading for the Mothership, Sir! I think it intends to destroy it.”

“Prepare Omega wing. Pass the coordinates to them. When they are ready, unleash Omega,” G’aas ordered.

Behind the Baal-Haasim was a massive formation of Mimic corvettes, packing Quantum explosives, with Avenger corvettes right behind as escorts. The new MCVs were not piloted by Sleepers, and instead, with a new droid AI technology that are controlled by the weapons officer of the escorting ACVs.

“This is Omega Leader, roger that, we got the coordinates. We will take care of the target for you.” Below him, the weapons officer flicked a series of switches, and the MCVs came to life, turbines starting to rev.

“This is Omega Leader once again. The Mimics are flying…the Mimics are flying.” The primary wave of ACVs boosted, and the waves of MCV followed them.

Aboard the Baal-Haasim, G’aas announced a second set of orders. “Contact the Kuun-Laan and the Faal-Corum. We’re going to play our best hand now. Tell them to intercept the Kadeshi flagship and destroy it with siege cannons if Omega wing should fail. As we have cut off the head of the Beast, and now we will cut off the head of the Protectors of Kadesh!” * * *

Zha was frantically helping Seejuk download as much information from the terminals into the backup modules. But Seejuk seemed to have caught some other things of interest.

“Look at this, Zha,” Seejuk observed. “I think I finally got access to the Khar’nak’s floor plans, navigational, control and engine systems. It’s amazing the Kadeshi have preserved this derelict in near working order. This thing can literally fly even without the exterior Needleship structure.”

“Are you still playing around, Seejuk? If we don’t hurry, we will die here. It’s all too late for that. This ship is going to crash into the Mothership, if your forces did not destroy it before hand. I don’t want to be around for that,” Zha complained.

Seejuk clutched the bag with the backup modules, then looked at the smaller relics around his desk. “It would be sad to leave all this. In the long run, we will suffer from the loss of all the knowledge hidden within these things. What a waste.” Carrying their load, they ran out the door and into the hallway.

Explosions rocked the ship, and Zha fell. “We are under attack,” Seejuk observed as he helped to lift Zha on her feet. Zha tended the pain in her knees, and she ran with a limp.

In the great hall of the ship, under the magnificent statue of the Great Mother, they saw G’yela. She was kneeling in her plain pale gown, arms outstretched, her prayer and her chant combined into a troubling haunting song that explored deep within a soul. Tears streamed down her eyes, as she threw her remaining strength and spirit to her song and prayer.

Zha was amazed at what she saw, and she dropped her bag.

“I…I can’t leave her like this…I can’t leave her knowing she would die…” Zha told Seejuk.

Seejuk rolled his eyes at the ceiling. This girl deserves to die for all the things she did, and she’s ready for it, Seejuk thought. He sighed. But Zha was right….

The Khar’nak shook with more explosions. Statues and pillars fell. The statue of the Great Mother shook, then tilted, then fell at G’yela’s direction.

G’yela screamed just moments before Seejuk leaped and pulled her away, both of them falling to the floor nearby. The statue crashed, breaking into stone and dust.

Seejuk felt G’yela’s frail body tightly hugging his. He could feel her quiver, shake with great fear of her own, a fear she had been defiantly hiding. “C’mon girl, you’re going to get away with us,” he assured her.

“Leave me be, my fate is to die…” G’yela said.

Seejuk slapped G’yela hard across the face. “You’re not going to die!” He shouted. “How many times do I have to tell you that?”

“Tsk tsk…I think we got a problem,” Zha interrupted. She pointed to the fallen pillars that block the entrance.

“Is there another way to get out of here?” Seejuk asked G’yela.

“Through the bridge. Not the bridge of the Needleship, but the bridge of the old Khar’nak ship,” G’yela said. She pointed them the way. G’yela seemed hurt, and Zha placed G’yela’s arm around her shoulders, even though Zha was limping.

They entered the bridge, and Seejuk was pleasantly surprised that the bridge did not hold much of a difference from modern Kushan warships. “I have an idea, and I need all your help.” Seejuk went to the captain’s chair, and pressed a few buttons. The terminal screens lit up.

“What are you going to do?” Zha said.

“I think we can save this entire ship, the Khar’nak. The derelict seems to be in maintained working order, we can turn it around and prevent the collision,” Seejuk said. “I’ll take the captain’s chair, Zha, you take the tactical console.”

Seejuk turned to G’yela. “I know you planned to erase this ship and all its memories to hide the truth. But you have kept the truth long enough from your people and to deny the truth from them forever by destroying this ship would curse them for all eternity. They would be hurt if they knew the truth, but only for a moment. Your people are resilient. They will survive the loss of their religion, but if they have greater faith in themselves, they will become even stronger with the truth. That is what a real faith should be based on. If you really want to save yourself and your people, you should let them know the truth. This is the last and most important thing you can give them.”

G’yela lowered her eyes and nodded.

“Now help us turn this ship around,” Seejuk said.

The screens flickered, then opened to reveal the battle outside. As the ship shook with explosions, the three of them watched as the wave of Mimic drones smash into the ship. But a last ditch defense from a Disciple wing destroyed as many of the Mimics they can intercept, despite caught in a dogfight with escorting Avenger corvettes.

“I got two large ships coming our way,” Zha warned, watching her tactical screens. She magnified the view.

“It’s the Kuun-Laan and the Faal-Corum, heading our way,” Seejuk said. “I got energy readings that looks like one of them got a siege cannon ready to fire. Oh by Sajuuk’s name…”

He spoke too late. A massive fireball was coming their way.

“Brace yourself everyone!” Seejuk warned. “If we make it through this…”

The massive Needleship shook violently. The siege cannon ball missed the Needleship from a direct hit, but the shockwaves send great damage throughout the hull of the ship.

“There is enormous damage in all decks of the Needleship, but the Khar’nak derelict is intact,” Seejuk sighed with relief. He noted that the ship within a ship concept of the Khar’nak is what’s keeping the derelict intact, and was keeping them alive as well. The blast has cleaned out what was left of Omega wing and the Swarmer defense wing, leaving the Khar’nak alone.

But the second ship, the Faal-Corum, was powering up its siege cannon.

“We’re not going to survive through this. Zha, I think you better go. Take G’yela with you,” Seejuk said. “That Swarmer can hold only two people at the most, and that’s going to be cramped for an aging fella like me.”

“You what? Nobody is leaving not without you!” Zha shouted.

“You damn bitch, get out of here. I am not going to take a chance for all of us to die. If the worst someone must still be alive, and I would rather that it be you rather then be. I can still save this ship, and you can save yourself,” Seejuk argued. “Hurry!”

“You old asshole, you…” Zha cried. Seejuk was right again. “You promise me you are not going to die, you old asshole, you promise me you’re not going to leave me. You’re promise you’re going to come back.” For a moment, her thoughts lay with her father, for the last moments he was with her. He never came back, and the deep fear and agony of the moment gripped Zha’s heart and her voice quivered and sobbed.

Seejuk clutched Hiraa’s gemstone in his necklace. “By the memory of my beloved Hiraa, I will come back I swear. It will take a lot more than a couple of siege cannons to kill this old Kharakian husk.”

“I cannot leave,” G’yela said. “You need me here to save this ship. It’s my final duty, and the last I can do for my people. Besides, you can only override the codes with my voice. Zha, you have no time to argue with us now. The legacies of the Farers are with you, and they must survive with you. We will be alright.” There is a strange calm and peace in her voice.

“Zha, there is a short cut from this bridge to the docking bay,” G’yela pointed to a small door and then a schematic in a screen. “Just follow this.”

Zha rushed and hugged her, and G’yela hugged back. “It was good to know you,” Zha said.

“It was good to know you too,” G’yela replied.

Zha took one last look and exited through the door, some tears in her eyes. Her heart was heavy, but she ran as fast as her injured legs could move her. An Advanced Swarmer was waiting on a launch rail, and as she entered the ship, she noticed that its weapons bay was deliberately emptied to allow another passenger and various artifacts to fit in. But there won’t be any passenger to fit inside. She will fly this alone.

Inside the emptied compartment, some relics have been placed ahead by crews following G’yela’s orders, relics that would have pertained to the heritage of the Farers and the Sirens, relics that G’yela wanted saved but never had sufficient time to study. The work was left with Zha now.

Every Swarmer was intended to be easy to fly, and this was no exception. She lowered the cockpit door herself, toggled the joystick and flicked the engine ignition.

“I got you, Zha,” Seejuk’s face flashed in a small monitor. “We’re ready to launch you.” Seejuk made a thumbs up in the screen, a gesture hauntingly similar to the one her father gave before he left to face the Beast.

“The Faal-Corum has fired its siege cannon! Launch now!” Seejuk urged.

Zha pulled the lever, and the Swarmer zoomed on the launch rails, the G-forces pinning her back. There was a terrific whoosh as the Swarmer was flung through the launch tube, and suddenly there was the darkness of space. There was only light in the stars, the flashes of the battles, and the phosphorescent glow from the Swarmer’s instruments.

Zha glimpsed the sensors. The fireball is coming! She kicked the boost in the Swarmer, and G-forces pinned her back once more against her seat. The fireball missed direct impact again, but she can only glimpsed the shockwaves tearing the Needleship structure. She can sense the shockwaves coming behind her, ravenous, totally ripping this ship if she got caught in the wave.

In a race against the wave, she boosted the Swarmer like she never boosted a fighter before. Lightened by the lack of a passenger and weapons, the Advanced Swarmer was faster than normal. For a moment there, the wave of death was about to overtake her, and as she was about to be engulfed in its hug, the wave suddenly faded. There was only a cloud of debris chasing the Swarmer.

She sighed a sign of relief and laid some grateful patting on the Swarmer’s dashboard. Damn, she thought, this was one fast fighter, the fastest she has ever seen and so fast it saved her life. She looked at back to see if the Khar’nak was there.

The vast Needleship was all in flames. Sections of it were exploding, stripping away. It was a horrible sight. Then she felt something, something that only a Child of the Unbound can percieve, and that is presence of another. If G’yela was still alive, then so was Seejuk. Zha shouted with glee.

The Needleship structure began to strip away. Then the last bolts holding the burning Needleship structure blew, and the vast Needleship disintergrated. As the debris fell off, something moved within it, and from the cloud of junk and debris emerged a ship.

It was the old derelict Khar’nak, moving on its own power after all the millennia.

“YES! YES!” shouted Zha at the top of her voice, never was she excited or awed by such a sight.

“Hmm, like I said, they don’t build ships like this anymore,” Seejuk observed at the bridge of Khar’nak. “What did you say?” G’yela asked. “It is our sacred duty to maintain and protect the Mother’s great ship to the best we can.”

“We got good ship construction here, and you all did a fine job in keeping this ship. But we’re not through yet. They will still try to repeatedly blast us with those siege cannons until there is nothing left of us but nuclear particles,” Seejuk said.

Then an idea came to him, a desperate one, one that may save the ship and stop the war at the same time. Let the truth finally save us all, he thought.

“Seejuk, G’yela, are you alright?” Zha’s screen flashed in front of the monitors.

Seejuk gave a thumbs up, and Zha smiled. Seejuk had another reason to smile—the Khar’nak’s ancient communications system was still working, and surprisingly compatible with both Kushan and Kadeshi systems. The communication boosters G’yela used to sing to her fleet was still operational. If he can link the two…

He took a backup module and inserted the interface on one of the terminal consoles. He then linked the Kadeshi and Kushan language interfaces, and began to play an ancient recording. * * *

G’aas watched the screens in total disbelief. The strange looking enormous Needleship shedded its outer hull to reveal an inner structure that turned out to be what his science officer described as a self moving ancient Hiigaran derelict. He wondered if they should continue to fire on an ancient Hiigaran derelict, but he will not take the chance.

The battle was not going well for him but neither for the Kadeshi. His sensor reports that the four Kadeshi ancient dreadnaughts have gotten their siege cannons repaired and were positioning to blast them with such. The main Allied capital ship fleet was deeply engaged with their opposing equivalents.

He finally played his ace card. Three Taiidani task forces, each led by an enormous Empress class carrier, dematerialized behind Kadeshi positions. The Kadeshi inhibitors prevented ships from jumping out of the battlespace, but there was nothing said about new forces jumping in. The carrier task forces began sending strike ships and capital ships against the Arkships. The Arkships themselves have poor defensive armament, but large Swarmer wings defended them with pure fanaticism.

The position was like two opponents with daggers on their necks. The Kadeshi have the ability to wipe out the Allied fleet, but the Allies have the ability to wipe out the Kadeshi population ships.

G’aas sighed. It would be unbearable to his conscience to kill the Kadeshi civilians, but this was total war.

“Sir,” the communications officer interrupted G’aas’ thoughts. “We got something in the comlinks. It’s coming out from the derelict and its being broadcasted in both Kushan and Kadeshi frequencies. Some woman…”

“Screens!” G’aas ordered.

The handsome, yet dignified face of a woman appeared. Her graceful features looked Kushan but not quite desert raised, more with the scholarly look of a S’jet or Kaalel. She wore a strange military uniform, yet somewhat familiar, and beside her stood what seemed to be her ranking officers.

“This is Commander N’ua Helan of the Hiigaran Imperial Navy, speaking to you from the Imperial assault carrier Khar’desh. If you can hear this, this is addressed to the survivors and maybe even the children of the ship Khar’toba. I don’t know if you can ever receive this, but I pray that you do receive this now, if not somewhere, someday….”

“….As you all know, our convoy was stalked by a Taiidan carrier task force under orders by their Emperor to defy the Galactic Council edict and exterminate every living member of our race. Just outside the Great Nebula, the Taiidans unleashed their forces to exterminate us all. But we prevailed, thanks to the technological advantage the new ion beam weapons and Swarmer fighters the Council has kindly provided us….”

“…But during the battle our ships were heavily damaged. As the Khar’toba drifted, the enemy carrier moved in to destroy the Khar’toba and all her survivors. The Khar’nak came between the Khar’toba and the enemy carrier and fired the siege cannon we obtained from the Emperor’s flagship, the Khar’kusha. The blast destroyed the enemy carrier, but drained the Khar’nak’s energy systems, damaged her navigation and propulsion systems. The Khar’nak drifted into the Great Nebula, drawing fire from the remaining Taiidan forces, as the Khar’toba fled safely. This was the moment of our separation. The carrier Khar’desh followed the Khar’nak into the Great Nebula, fighting a running battle to protect the people in the Khar’nak…”

“…From then on, we never heard of you, and you were all lost to us, as we are to you. We managed to fight off the enemy but the Khar’nak’s engines were heavily damaged. The battles have left the carrier Khar’desh heavily damaged, and I fear she would not be habitable much longer without heavy repairs. We are stranded now in the Nebula, and outside of it, the Taiidani has sent forces to hunt us down, awaiting us if we were to leave the Nebula. So we are trapped. They occasionally sent forces to hunt us down inside the Nebula, but we have been able to defeat them with our new weapons, salvaged all we can find. We hide among the clouds of the Great Nebula, who provide us protection. We now collect among the clouds of the Great Nebula, who now provide us sustenance. We can make a home here, but our heart will always be to return to Hiigara.”

“…As we remain trapped in the Nebula, we wonder about the fate and well being of brothers and sisters in the Khar’toba. We hoped that you have a safe journey and would find a safe home away from the Taiidan oppression…”

“…One day, we hope to find you…or if you may, find us…”

“…One day, we hope to be united again, and in unity, we will claim back our beautiful homeworld of Hiigara, and reclaim our empire and birthright from the Taiidan oppression. No, this is not a hope—this is my prediction. This should be and will be the goals of both our children, the children of the Khar’nak and Khar’desh, and the children of the Khar’toba, should we fail to survive to make our dreams true…”

“…Inside your ship, and the Khar’nak, as a reminder for you all, I hand carved from the memorial stones of these giant ships, a map of where we came from and of our common heritage. Tthe stones will serve as a guide and a reminder of who we are. On that one faithful day, on the death of Hiigara, there were many more ships of the Exiles that left. We will also find all the other Exiles and join them to restore the brother and sisterhood of Hiigara…”

“…My other message is a personal one. It is for the one I love and of whom we are separated forever. This is for you, Captain Jakuul Pangu’t of the Khar’toba, if you can still hear me or if ever receive this which I pray that you will. My heart pains from this separation like a curse. It is like a hole inside me. But you like to know something? Yes, you are a father now. I am pregnant with our child. This is not the best of circumstances to have a child, barely surviving in a battered transport and warship. But like all those who were born during the journey, they represent the hope for Hiigara now. Our children. To reclaim the right of our past for our future. I will raise your child and I will make him remember his father. I hope the children of our children will not forget us, our sacrifice, and our dreams. If I cannot return to Hiigara, then our child will, and if he or she did not, then their children…”

“…It pains me to make this message, with all the uncertainty about our future or even to receive this message… I hope you have a safe journey. I hope we will all return to Hiigara some day. Let the gods be with you… Long live Hiigara…I love you all…”

The image of the woman faded, the message three millennia late finally delivered to the children she had laid her hopes for.

G’aas stared at the screen, totally bewildered. There was nothing but an eerie silence in the bridge of the Baal-Haasim. G’aas was the first to break the silence.

“Get me the Kadeshi fleet commander, directly,” G’aas ordered the communications officer.

“He is already here, Admiral. He wishes to speak to you directly. He is requesting for an immediate cease fire on both sides to peacefully investigate the matter of common origin and the rightful contention of Hiigara.”

If this is a trick, the Kadeshi would not be offering a ceasefire.

“He has read my mind,” G’aas replied. “Tell him, we will grant truce and ceasefire. Relay it to the rest of the fleet immediately.” * * *

“It is done,” G’yela said. “It is the end of our Faith. To know that our Great Mother, our Goddess was but a mortal Hiigaran.”

“She is not Goddess, and never was. What she was, is a heroine. Without her, both the Kushan and the Kadeshi people would never have started, nor would they have returned to their Homeworld. It is never too late to learn the truth, even if it is three millennia late. That was our Kushan history as well,” Seejuk said.

“For the first time, I feel free,” G’yela said. “The Mother did prophesy that in the end of the days of Kadesh, the Orders will be no more, and a new world will be born again. This was the prophesy the Orders feared most, and why they hid this truth for so long. But it had come true.”

“But I remain the condemned. I have caused so much lives across the Outside. So much Kadeshi, so much Kushan, Taiidan and Turanic lives. What will be done to me?” G’yela asked. Her note turned to a depression.

Zha’s voice was excited as it cracked in the comlink. “You done it, you done it. There is an immediate cease fire.”

But there was no joy in Seejuk’s face. Instead there seemed to be one of extreme concern.

“There was something your Great Mother said about the state of this ship,” Seejuk said. “The navigational and the control systems were damaged, right? That’s why the ship was trapped in the Nebula. Were they ever repaired?”

“Not that I know of,” G’yela responded. “I only keep the Gospel. I don’t keep repair records 3,000 years old.”

“Well whatever this thing is running on,” Seejuk observed. “It’s running out of pure inertia. It’s still headed for the Kushan Mothership. We got to find a way to stop this thing.”

“The ship is still headed for the Mothership?” G’yela asked. “Then it is indeed inevitable. My fate is sealed with this ship. It is unchanging.”

“Cut the crap, girl, you’re not going to die,” Seejuk said.

The screen fizzled, and Admiral G’aas face appeared on it. “This is addressed to the commander aboard the derelict ship.”

“Hi Admiral,” Seejuk greeted.

The Admiral’s face was in shock, as if he could not take successive surprises.

“You! Seejuk Liirhra. What are you doing in that ship? By any means, were you responsible for that outrageous communication display? Was all that true?”

“Yes Admiral,” Seejuk replied. N’ua Helan is a true person, the so called mother goddess of the Kadeshi. I found all these records here, in the bowels of the old derelict ship she once commanded. Come to think of it, she was alive, 3,000 years ago, right in this very bridge. I think this is awesome, to be in the very same bridge of the person that saved the ancestors of Kushan and Kadesh.”

“Is this the purpose you defected?” G’aas asked. “You disobeyed an order and a duty. You can be court martialed for it.”

“Not really defected, but to convince,” Seejuk replied. “Small price to pay to save two races from killing each other. My only regret was I didn’t do it soon enough. I would do it again if I have to. But right now I have other problems. The derelict is a runaway. The ancient repairs done on the navigation and controls were superficial and untested. It will collide with the Mothership and there is no hope in getting out.”

“This is Zha, in the Swarmer,” Zha interrupted. “Can I land and pick you people up?”

“Negative, Zha,” Seejuk replied. “After the last siege cannon blast the dock bays are non operational. We are trapped here.”

An officer whispered to G’aas in the screen. G’aas looked again at Seejuk. “I think we might have a solution. The Somtaaw are going to send some Heavy Tug frigates to ram and push the derelict ship away from the Mothership.”

“That can work,” Seejuk agreed. “Communications seem faulty. We can’t maintain contact long. Energy levels running low here.” He thought, I guess nothing is really perfect.

Four Ramming Tugs appeared, heading for the derelict. There was an enormous thud as the first Tug made contact on the Khar’nak’s hull, followed by another. The crescent shape of the Mothership loomed, and Seejuk knew there was not much time to waste. The Khar’nak shook and creaked as the Tugs rammed and pushed. Odd noises creaked through the old structure like an ancient monster awaked from its sleep.

“Looks like it’s working,” Seejuk shouted excitedly. “Yes, it’s working.” He watched the nose of the Khar’nak derelict veered away from the crescent Mothership.

Then his wide grin turned sour. He made immediate calculations, and his face hung a strange concerned expression. He watched the window as the nose of the Khar’nak turned into blue orb of Hiigara itself. The Tugs could only push, but not in a precise direction. He hailed the tugs but it was too late. The Tugs had already made their fateful error and the course was irrevocable.

“I can sense where we are going,” G’yela said. “This ship is going to crash into the planet itself. It has been prophesied that the Great Mother will return to the First Gardens in a blaze of fire. Nobody understood what it literally meant. Was it conquest like I thought it would? Now, Her great wisdom is revealed. She will fall from the Heavens as it was said. Now I know what it all truly meant. My fate is still sealed. Everything remains the same.”

“Will you ever shut the hell up?” Seejuk desperately grasped his hair with both his hands. “Let me figure this out.”

“While you do the figuring, I will do the praying,” G’yela said, leaving the bridge to pray among her fallen idols in the Great Hall.

Seejuk frantically keyed the terminals, searching for a way in the ship’s systems. “There’s got to be an emergency retro landing system somewhere.”

Zha’s voice was in the comlink. “Seejuk, what are you still doing there? The derelict is going to reenter the planet’s atmosphere—–” The static interrupted her voice.

Outside, the nose of the giant ship started to turn red from the heat, as the Khar’nak sliced through the upper molecules of the Hiigaran atmosphere at an incredible velocity. The blue orb grew bigger in the screens, but the scene became engulfed with fire, as red flame swept through the length of the ship. The screens turned black as the external cameras failed. The giant ship shook with an eerie vibration, and the walls filled with a mournful moaning sound, as the ship burned and melted.

3,000 years ago, the Khar’nak departed from the surface of Hiigara, and now it has returned, a falling star streaking across its skies. * * *

She awoke, her face in the sand, her body wet from the blue waters of the sea. It was so bright, she had never seen a sun, a star so close that the air became blue.

Her thin pale dress, wet from the sand and the water, clung to her lithe figure. She had no shoes, and her bare feet buried into the soft sand. It was an interesting sensation for the small pebbles to slip between her toes, and the lapping waves of water lap her feet. Above, flying creatures sing, then probe the water for food. Many small creatures teemed the waters and the sand. It was indeed the Sea of Life as it was foretold.

It was so beautiful, so beautiful. She never dreamt it was like this. Aborad the Arkships as a child she dreamt what it will be on the surface of those starry orbs they called worlds and planets. Now she is here. Is this Homeworld? The First Gardens? It was truly beautiful, as the Mother called it. To see all this once again, this was the Mother’s quest. Now she was seeing it for herself.

Her silvery hair flew with the winds. She never felt a wind like this before, touching her skin, her eyes, and her nose. Every step she took, she staggered holding to her balance. The gravity seems stronger, the air warmer, hotter.

Is this all a dream? Is she dead?

A child was running towards her and for a moment she saw herself in that child. A man and a woman followed the young girl.

“Did you see to that? Did you see that?” said the young girl, pointing to horizon. “A star fell from the sky.”

The man said, “They said there was a huge battle in the sky. Some of the junk are falling out of it.”

The silvery haired girl looked at the horizon where the child pointed. There was a smoke plume rising from a large burning hulk.

The man noticed that this new girl in the beach seemed odd to the utmost. She was delicately beautiful, yet serene and strangely quiet, unsure of every step she made, always curiously examining her surroundings. “Are you alright, Miss?”

The strange girl looked at him, smiled and nodded, not saying a single word. The young girl smiled and the strange steely eyed girl smiled back at her, her silvery hair blowing with the sea winds.

She was alive, she thought. Death wasn’t her fate. The Mother rewards in mysterious ways. With only her thin pale dress, she began a new journey across the beach, leaving her frail footsteps across the sand.

Chapter 19 | Landing Page | Chapter 21

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