“This is the big event!” said Zhoan, as the party embarked on a frigate docked on the planetoid. Zhoan could see the questions in the faces of his three Kushan guests. The frigate was large, bulky, with squarish, angular lines, lacking the clean look of an Assassin class Ion Array Frigate, and bristling with turrets.
“This ship is a Cutlass Salvage Frigate, one of the ships unique to the House of Du’ran, and a great source of pride to our fleet. As the name suggests, we use it to salvage, board and capture large ships. A single one of this can take out a Resourcer or Tradeship; two of these an entire Destroyer. The compartments here are used to hold an entire company of marines. It will clamp on a vessel, cut through the hull, and the party will invade the enemy ship.”
“But for this occasion, we’re fitting this Cutlass with extra scanning equipment and terminal screens. We are going to use the ship, pick up Zha’s racer, and head for the asteroids where we will deploy her ship in the starting position. Then relax and watch the Belt Race from here. So enjoy a relax.”
It was the time of the Festivities, and it was the opportunity for the Flo’karr to gather the stories and tales from all the numerous Houses of the Raiders and record them in song and poem for all their children to hear.
But Zhura, following the quest sought by her father, had another purpose. As Flo’karr scribes interviewed and downloaded all the recent tales of the Raiders, she focused on incidents that occurred in the Frontier sector, a sector of space not even touched by the Taiidani during the height of their Empire. Beyond the Frontier lay the great Abyss, the vast space between the Galaxies, where there is nothing but a few star clusters and where Dark Matter reside. Dark Matter is the primordial matter left over from Universal Creation, and it can harbor no life, so no life can exist in the Abyss. But can a civilization resource and live on Dark Matter?
Seejuk returned to the makeshift laboratory inside the Mule, one of the sole places of refuge he had in the ship from the constant bickering of the two Kiithsa scions. The lab was used to keep specimens and relics for analysis.
Something caught his attention. He almost forgot about this experiment. It was shortly before the Kadeshi began their crusade, and the Naabal engaged a Generation 7 fragment of the Beast. The Mule came to the battlesite and retrieved nanotech samples from debris in the battlespace. They found the G7 fragments but the discovery of the Kadeshi ships in the area overshadowed that event.
The G7 fragments were kept in a quarantine chamber. He had placed plants and animal samples inside the chamber to observe and document Beast nanotech infection. Predictably enough the sample plants and animals turned fiery red, with the characteristic red moldy patches all over. Instruments documented the events, and the data was stored in the banks. It can be useful in developing a new anti Beast vaccine, or even—perish the thought—a controllable Beast virus that can be used as a weapon. No, no, the Imperials tried that, and the experiment blew in their faces. The released Beast mutation ravaged both Imperialist and Turanic homespaces. One of the victims was Zha Khor herself. She was orphaned, her home outpost destroyed, when a mutated Beast fragment attacked the Khor base.
“I’m right here, my child.” His image beamed with light, and an aura surrounded him.
“I thought you were dead.” Zha knelt before the image. “Is that really you?”
“I will always be with you, my loved one,” said the image. “You know me by what you feel in your heart.”
“Father?” Zha reached out to touch the ethereal image, and that was when she opened her eyes. She stared at the walls that made up her bedroom, all lined with photos of planets, diagrams and pictures of starships and fighters, and a few photos of some Taiidan pop idols. There were too many unspeakable things that lay on the floor. Other junk littered the shelves and tables. The room could be a museum on its own.
After the great Crusade of the Kadeshi, Zha Khor, the arrogant young Raider princess and her business manager’ the brilliant engineer Seejuk Liirhra returned to the Turan Planetoid. It was for the great Raider festivities of the Oathtakin g, a cultural celeb ration that has united the different Houses of the Raiders for many millennia.
Aboard, two rival scion s of Hiigara’s greatest Kiiths are embarked on a journey to prove their theories about the origins of intelligent life on the Galaxy—the ProtoGenesis theory. It is a journey that begins in the great Planetoid in the search for the origins of the Raiders and a strange prophecy. It ends to the far side of the Galaxy, where the past still lives in the form of a malevolent alien race.
But here, also o n the edge of the Galaxy, a new Beast lives…and evolves.
Facing new threats, the Unbound have gathered their ultimate war machine s for a show down.
As two ancient powers collide, Zha and Seejuk are caught in a race of time to save the one thing that can stop them all, the creature called the White Beast.
A somewhat advanced pencil sketch from me at the time, I don’t quite recall what got me into chess. I think it was a game box that my family had gotten with various board games, that did include chess. I also do recall that we had gotten a game called Chessmaster 4000, whose aesthetics do match up with the lightning and everything.
Remember that spiffy game called Descent? With the ship flying around in the cavern shooting robots? I got a whiff of it and thought it was intoxicating. While I couldn’t play it at home, the memory stuck with me long after. And while I had barely been drawing things in MSPaint, one night I did drum this up on my parent’s IBM 65sx PS/2 system, and had forgotten about it till a diskette dump I did in 2014; a BMP fanart of Descent.
I had seen the game briefly in action at a relative’s house in Charlotte. And while I would die within ten minutes of starting Level 1, those gray hallways and that Spider Bot in the menu always stuck to me. While I’m pretty sure I might’ve drawn something on paper, I apparently did this in MSPaint as well. Why, I don’t know; but I did, and I did write and save it to a floppy disk to uncover all these years later.
As you can see, the imagination of a kid holds a lot of potential. They can remember certain things very well and vividly in those times. The cockpit may be well off, but I certainly remembered that double ring HUD. And I even got the ship design right in the shield window to some degree. Looking back at it decades later, I can’t believe it myself that I did ‘fanart’.
One of the things I always wanted as a kid was a train set. This came about after an uncle gave my Dad some leftover parts of a defunct train set. All I had was the caboose and one track length to play with. Later on another uncle did provide a cheaper complete set that I could fool around with to a point, which was fun till the engine broke (it was some generic battery-operated store brand, I think).
Since then, I’ve always wanted a proper one to fool around with till about my later teenage years. This is me trying to imagine a new, complete store-bought train with the imagined bits of the old one I had. While I now realize a modern electric train wouldn’t be hauling a steam train caboose and coal car, little me was creative enough to smack old and new together.