The Kadeshi Crusade
A Homeworld Fanfiction
Originally posted May 15, 2001
Chapter 9 – The Tiamat
As the carrier left orbit around the base, Zha and Seejuk were busy with the tedious details of logging the inventory. Rows and rows of spanking “new” fighters and corvettes—mostly reconditioned surplus—have brought the Mule’s strike force complement to full strength. For Seejuk, it was surreal to view the hybrid force—-some Taiidani, some Kushan, some Turanic plus a dose of captured Kadeshi Swarmers. To be able to house the fighters, Seejuk planned to hack support units along the bottom of the Mule, based on proposals he read from the latest Hiigaran ship engineering journals.
Zha braced as she was about to hear a long lecture from Seejuk.
He began. “The problem of fighters was that lately, after the Beast Wars, they have taken the turn towards heavier armament over performance. While they have greatly improved their firepower which favors striking capital ships, there is not much improvement in their overall performance. Fighter performance is driven to outmatch the other, and when the other is concentrating attacking capital ships over pure fighter to fighter dogfights, there is not much incentive to improve overall fighter performance. That’s why the Blade Mk6, Triikor Mk2 and the the Acolyte upgraded versions are not really better performers than their predecessors. That is why us Kushans and the Taiidanis are going to pay for this mistake dearly when they face up with new upgraded Swarmers, which will fly rings around their craft. The problem is that it will take a while to develop a new superior fighter to take the Swarmers on, and by that time, they may have overrun our defenses. The short term partial solution would be to bring back the classic scouts of the Homeworld War, the Arrows and the Fiirkans, as they are the only things that can keep up against the Swarmers, which had a maximum velocity nearly twice as that of the latest interceptor. “
“The other solution is another mothballed design which was graciously retired after the Somtaaw Sentinel took its place. I have taken the initiative to order these, and we might be able to copy it for our production.” Seejuk pointed to some closed crates, which workers were hurriedly trying to unpack.
The crate opened to reveal a Shield Mk 3c Advanced Defender fighter. The 3c variant featured a firepower improvement over the 3b Heavy Defender and 3a Light Defender variant with the addition of a fourth cannon. “The thing is slow, but the firepower and armor of those things are going to help us fight off a Swarmer attack,” Seejuk said.
“Black Star also sent us another fighter variation for our mission.,” Seejuk said. Another crate was opened to reveal a Kushan cloaked fighter. “We can’t produce this, and we only have a few of them. These cloaked fighters have their guns removed for sensory equipment. They won’t be sending us these if they’re expecting that we will be risking our lives in these. These cloaked fighters are to complement the Mimic Recon fighter over there.”
Zha hummed. The mission must be both very important and risky if Black Star was willing to spare the best tools.
“The Raider delegation also left us with a lot of things,” Seejuk said. “It seems they have designated you as the lead ship in upholding the honor of the Raiders against the Kadeshi Crusaders. They have left you with several pilot volunteers, supplies, missile ammunition, several strike craft including Brigands, Thieves, and Bandits. Some of the Bandits were equipped with mimic or cloak generators, and they have provided with extra generators of both types.”
“That’s generous of them. We certainly need the supplies,” Zha said.
“What more, the Republicans will spare us with a couple of Supply Frigates, number of Repair Corvettes, a few Resourcers and a couple of Controllers,” Seejuk said.
“That is most generous of them. I could need some logistical support,” Zha said. “We need everything we could. I expect this to be at least a very dangerous mission.”
“Sounds like fun, eh, Seejuk?” ***
“Our gifts did not come free,” Seejuk said as he hunkered down in the board room with Zha and a few close officers. “Black Star correctly assumed, based on our encounters, that our carrier was better suited for the task than anything in the Kushan or Taiidan fleet. We are to locate the enemy fleet, stalk and survey it with the cloak or mimic ships, keeping ourselves undetected for the whole time.”
“Our mission targets include this,” Seejuk said, pointing to a model of the mysterious Kadeshi mothership with Hiigaran ship structure in the middle that might possibly be the sister ship of the Khar-toba. “Our captain discovered this ship, but there is more to this. We need to verify the structure here, between the Hiigaran ship, and the umbrella here. One possible suspicion is that it can be a siege cannon.”
“A siege cannon?” Zha asked.
“Imagine that pointing at your fleet. We have no knowledge if the weapon is operational. If it were, the Taiidan and the Turanic fleets could have been decimated by it,” Seejuk said.
“Our next targets are these,” Seejuk showed new models. “Remember this? It’s the assault carrier we engaged. The ship had a remarkable resemblance to our Kushan carriers. It also had a remarkable resemblance to this—-” Seejuk showed the next model. “These were taken during the Homeworld Wars. They were derelicts in the Karos graveyard. A similar ship was also detected and photographed within the Great Nebula itself, where we detected the Khar-toba sister ship. “
“The next model is another derelict in Karos. Quite possibly it’s a heavy cruiser. Our next shot here looks like a shipyard scaffold. Yes we also took this shot. The structure inside the scaffold is similar to the derelict, and if it is, the Kadeshi might be expected to field heavy cruisers soon. Historians claim that the derelicts in the Karos Graveyard were ships belonging to the old Hiigaran empire. The design of the cruiser and the assault carrier is of indication that the Kadeshi still somehow possess the old Hiigaran technology and has resurrected them for their own use.”
“So, we need to bring the Mule within close range of the Kadeshi fleet under cloaked running, close enough to launch our mimic and cloaked fighters, which will recon the fleet, and verify these developments. We will follow the fleet closely. Black Star Intelligence computed that our path will bring us close to the Karos graveyard. The path the Kadeshi is taking is similar to the one the Kushan Mothership took, which confirms that they have a star map like the one the Mothership had—a second Guidestone if you will. If we reach the Graveyard, we will investigate the Derelicts for anything that we can learn to defeat the Kadeshi. The Karos junkyard salvagers and autoguns will be waiting for any interloper, and we will maintain stealth running as we go through the junkyard.”
“Tough task ahead of us, Zha?”
“Oh, sounds exciting,” Zha replied. “I can’t wait.” * * *
(Three thousand years ago)
From the Logs of Lt. Commander N’ua Helan, Hiigaran Imperial Fleet Command—.
“The Taiidan continued their sneak attacks. Despite the outrage of the Galactic Council, the new Taiidan’s emperor campaign for the total extermination of all Hiigarans continued. The forces of the new Emperor hunt us down like prey. Because of the incessant attacks, we have lost the freighter Khar’osa, with many lives, but many of her survivors are with the surviving ships. It is also sad to say that we have lost the captain of the Khar’nak in his heroic defense of the convory. I, Lt. Commander N’ua Helan, is the remaining highest ranking officer not only in the Khar’nak but with the remaining fleet”
“Our convoy are now down to three ships—the Khar’nak, the Khar’toba and the Khar’desh. We still do not have adequate defense. The Khar’nak and the Khar’toba were once the immense Nova class carriers, the pride of the Hiigaran Imperial Fleet, but had been stripped of most of their ship building equipment to be turned into exile transports and make room for the refugees. Our only hope for defense lies with the Khar’desh, a smaller Storm class assault carrier, which did not have sufficient time to be stripped of her ship building equipment. She could not hold enough refugees, but her bane could be our blessing. We will attempt to build a protective force, but we need resources. The Taiidan is expecting us to travel a straight route direct to the borders of the Galaxy; we will circumvent their traps. We will head to where the great Battle of Khar’os was fought, in the center of the galaxy, the nebula of birthing stars whom with irony, the late freighter Khar’osa was named after. It is also with irony that this is where the Khar’nak and the Khar’toba once fought as carriers, and it is here that I fought in command of an assault frigate. The name of Khar’os means birth of the Great Star. But for us, and for the biggest irony of all, it meant it’s fall.”
“It is now in the great graveyard that was once the battle that led to the fall of the Empire, that I lost my ship. I should have died with it. For a captain to survive without her ship is a badge of shame. This is the dishonor that I will bear for the rest of my life. But perhaps the Gods of Hiigara had something else for my fate planned, why I would miraculously survived the battle. Perhaps it is my destiny to lead the survivors, to plant the seed that Hiigara, and our Empire, should rise again.”
“Now I must return to the site of the battle that sealed the fate of an Empire, and that of my own. It is only because we are not much more than beggars now, the dogs that live on the scraps. We are only here to salvage all what we can find from the derelicts of our own navy, so that we may survive our long journey ahead.”
With these words, N’ua finished her latest entries. She was in the bridge of the Khar’desh, and monitored the screens as the salvagers and resourcers left the carrier to scour the graveyard of ships. Hours later, traffic was formed as the small ships came in and out, presenting their prizes. Her heart lightened with each resourcer bringing in valuable material to the three ships, and the salvagers were finding spare parts and still usable weapons among the wrecks.
A message came to the screen. “Commander N’ua,” the voice said. It was from one of the salvagers. “We found the Khar’kusha.”
The Khar’kusha. The Great Star of Kusha, patron god of Hiigara. The great battleship of the last Hiigaran Emperor himself. In its end and with his death, sealed the fate of an empire.
“My scans are showing that many parts of the ship are intact,” said the message.
“On screen, and interface the data with our computers for analysis,” N’ua commanded. The screens flashed as the schematic of the Khar’kusha appeared and brought to study.
“Looks like some of the weapons and equipment aboard the ship can still be salvaged. I’m ordering the other salvagers to assist you. I, in particular, want the imperial banner in the ship. It is not right for the Imperial Banner of Hiigara to be in junkyard. It must go with us standing wherever we go,” N’ua said.
N’ua looked at the scans more. “Salvager Alpha,” she said. “It appears that the siege cannon of the battleship is still intact. Can you salvage it?”
“Roger,” the message said. “As soon as the other salvagers arrive, the task will be done.”
N’ua does not have a battleship in her rag fleet, but the Khar’nak was formerly a Nova class carrier before her conversion. The massive carrier has the structure that can be outfitted with the siege cannon, and there were plans to actually do so before Hiigara itself was defeated.
The operation took a few more hours, and the Khar’kusha’s siege cannon had been towed back to the fleet. Engineers began the immediate task of attaching it to the hull of the Khar’nak.
Suddenly the screens flashed red. “Hyperspace signatures!”
Ships came out from hyperspace and surrounded them. There was no time to set up a defense. They would be destroyed immediately.
But the ships were not Taiidan. They surrounded the fleet in a threatening position, but they did not move. They appeared like salvagers of some kind as well, with their jaw equipment and lack of guns. Other ships appeared and these appeared like armed corvette class vessels.
“Please we mean no harm!,” N’ua shouted at the screens, as the com links frantically tried to connect to the frequency of the new ships. “This is Commander N’ua Helan of the Hiigaran Imperial Fleet. We are in a mission that requires mercy. We have nothing here but refugees.”
A much larger hyperspace signature started to manifest. From the gate, came an giant ship of glittering metal.
“We are the Unbound. On behalf of the Galactic Council, we have come to aid you for your journey. The small ships here you see are the Dogs that protect the graveyard from the sacrilege of the Taiidani. We cannot permit the technology of the Hiigaran Empire to fall into the hands of the Taiidan tyrant. The Dogs meant you no harm as they are here to protect those who lay in peace. When they detected your presence, they contacted us, unsure if you are enemy or friend.”
N’ua stared at the Bentusi ship, which was a magnificent sight. “We appreciate protecting the sanctity of the remains who died in battle here. We have come here to retrieve what is rightfully ours for what is necessary for our defense and survival. While we appreciate the actions of the Council, there was nothing they can do to help us. The Taiidani defied your edict behind your backs and still hunt us down like animals. I do not know the fate of the other ships that left Hiigara. For all I know, we may now be the only survivors of our race.”
The Bentusi replied. “Hiigaran. We know of your plight. Do not concern yourself of the other ships. They will find their own destinies. Your concern, and ours as well, would be your survival. The Taiidani will not be unpunished. The Council will not stand idly. Be prepared for the gift you will receive.”
A fighter left the Bentusi ship and headed for the Khar’desh’s dock.
“A single Bentusi fighter to help us? Is this the bizarre humor of the Bentusi?” N’ua said.
The Bentusi replied. “The ship contains a new technology that you can replicate. A new fighter that you can build for less the cost and less the time than your conventional fighters. It will offer greater speed and protection that no Hiigaran fighter possess. But even the Unbound are bound by our own rules in giving technology to a lesser star faring race. You will have to supply both the fighter drive and the armament of the ship. Consider this our token gift. The new fighters are for your defense, and they will help you outfight anything the Taiidani possess.”
Another major hyperspace signature appeared in the screen. A new monstrous ship, menacing, with its huge arms around a circular disk, came out of the gate and hovered near the Bentusi ship.
“The Forbidden,” the Bentusi said. “Why are you here? Have you not interfered with the natural order enough? Your interference has caused the death of an Empire and for a tyrant to rise.”
“Tsk, tsk, tsk,” the new voice said teasingly. “Your natural order of things is a stagnant universe that you can take advantage with for your business. The natural order of things is one of chaos and balance. You helped the Hiigarans, so we helped the Taiidani. It is only through chaos that the natural order finds rebirth.”
The new voice turned to N’ua. “We are the Tiamat. We too are members of the Council. Would you believe that we have to come help you as well?”
“You said you helped the Taiidani, and that makes you our enemy as well,” N’ua said. “All the lives you have cost.”
“You only see the past, Hiigaran,” the voice boomed. “You do not see the future. Your empire was destined to fall. Shall we say, we just speeded up the process? But we did not expect your total obliteration. That is not in the interest of the Tiamat. We are interested in rebirth through chaos. We are only interested in redressing the imbalance the Bentusi did when they granted assistance of the Hiigaran Empire. You have the potential of greater glory and we have come to lay our seeds for that.”
“The gift that the Bentusi gave is but a token one. Ours will not be. Prepare your data interfaces.”
N’ua never made the orders but the ship’s computers accepted the massive data downloads.
“What, Tiamat, have you given the Hiigaran?” said the Bentusi. “By the Directive, we are not allowed to give weapons technology to a lesser space race. This will upset the order of destiny in generations to come.”
“Your stance is hypocritical once again, Bentusi,” said the Tiamat. “You only play with the letter of the Law, not the intention. You provided them the chassis of a new fighter. That is interference enough. That by any means a weapon. You have already violated the Directive in spirit.”
“I must warn you Hiigaran for using the technologies given by the Forbidden,” said the Bentusi.
“Take your gifts back, Tiamat,” N’ua said. “We don’t trust you or any who assisted the Taiidan.”
“Your trust is not an option,” the Tiamat said. “You are the Defeated, and yet you remain arrogant. You will use the gifts we granted you as you please. The day and the moment will come when you will use them. The Council has failed you. The Empire will hunt you down. The fate of your race is in your hands. Will you let your entire race die by your principles? Or will you do whatever it takes for their survival?”
N’ua stood silently in front of the screens. Her officers stared at her, waiting for her next move. “We’re puppets,” she said.
“But you are, and always have been,” said the Tiamat. “We are the Wheel of Fate.”
With those last words, the Tiamat supership began to spin, its arms lighting in different colors. A gate appeared, and the Tiamat ship disappeared through it.
The Bentusi has not said a word as well, and the jumpgates have opened for them to make their exit too. The junkyard dogs were no where to be found as well.
“Commander,” one of the officers said. “The data…. I think we can use this. No, I think we should use them against the Taiidan. This is our chance to survive, regain Hiigara and wreak vengeance upon the Taiidani.” There is not one officer aboard who has not lost a loved one from the Taiidani and their atrocities. To refuse the gifts would have meant a loss of confidence in her as the commander and a mutiny later. N’ua herself too, burned with the desire for people to live, and one day, to strike back at the enemy.
The gifts the Forbidden have given were three. The first was a new ion beam weapon that is much smaller and more efficient than the ones they were using. It is far superior to anything used by the Taiidan or Hiigaran. The officers were discussing the weapon, and it is easy to see how it can lead to a new generation of powerful capital ships.
The second weapon was one that could alter the very fabric of space. To hyperspace requires a balance of factors and fields inherent in the space time continuum. By disturbing these fields, the balance is affected, preventing the opening of the hyperspace gate. The disturbance field can be used to trap ships. To house the inhibitor required a vast new ship design, which was the third gift. The inhibitor was housed in a massive circular symmetrical structure which the rest of the ship was built around, followed by an enormous stalk. The circular, alien design of the ship was a stark contrast to the slab like simple functionality of Hiigaran design. The symmetry and circular design was consistent to the way the Tiamat would approach things if their ship was of any indication.
The size of the ship alone exceeded that of the greatest Hiigaran battleships. What was the Tiamat thinking? The Hiigarans cannot use this for their survival. The ship would have required far greater resources to build than what they can afford. But the new ion beam cannons and the efficiency of the new fighter design given by the Bentusi can be most helpful. N’ua ordered the engineers to begin work on the new designs.