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HW: Legacies Part III

  1. The Studio Senior Member Homeworld Senior Member  #1
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    Fiction HW: Legacies Part III

    Parts I and II are accessible by hyperlink via my signature file.

    Much luff goes to the community for their support and idea-generation thus far.

    I expect this to be the final part of the Legacies trilogy, but that's dependent upon how well I can work out an ending to this entire Ashoran mess for the Alliance.

    And now, without further ado...


    ************

    Chapter 1

    “Pretty nebula,” Progie remarked thoughtfully at the swirls of green and yellow clouds on the massive screen next to him.

    Several other large screens throughout the massive bridge displayed different angles of the ship’s current surroundings. One showed the expanse of star-speckled space behind the Qwaar-Jet while another displayed the nebula’s shimmering golden core. A third showed a small cluster of asteroids floating between the nebula’s outer edge and its core.

    Noreena shrugged inside the Progenitor super-dreadnaught’s control sphere.

    “Kinda blah to me,” she remarked. “Besides, I’m not out here to check the scenery.”

    Progie nodded as he glanced to one large screen showing a cluster of Somtaaw, Hiigaran, and Vaygr merchant vessels huddled around an escort of two Vaygr destroyers and three Archangel IIs. A cluster of Vaygr and Somtaaw frigates mingled with the merchant vessels while Acolyte IIIs and Vaygr ACs buzzed about, their engine trails painting the green-hued sky with streaks of red and yellow.

    The Qwaar-Jet flew in its folded-up form: a large, sinister obelisk. It provided an ominous yet welcome addition to the convoy’s fleet as they flew further into what starcharts called the Sorelis Nebula. It lay only four conventional hyper jumps from the Karos Graveyard, and had seen frequent traffic as a back-door supply route for Alliance outposts since the Ashoran War entered its new phase after the Battle of Mortann, which had been exactly four months ago.

    That had been standard proceedure until the last convoy going through the small green nebula had disappeared upon reaching its center. Ifriit’s grim tone when he’d given Noreena and her senior staff the assignment via Bridge-to-Bridge feeds had implied the worst: the four-month lull in the War had come to an end with new enemy attacks.

    Progie sighed as he pulled his mind back to the mission at hand.

    “I know, I know,” he said. “Anything on sensors?”

    “Nope. Won’t be long though," she replied grimly. "The last convoy started sending distress signals about ten minutes inward from here before we lost ‘em.”

    “Well at least we won’t lose this bunch, thanks to you and Qwaar,” he replied knowingly. “Oh, hey...guess what’s in Secondary Hangars One through Four?”

    “Drone ships,” Noreena replied. “Probes and the like. At least that’s what the database told me.”

    “I went roaming around down there...and well...those make Keeper attack drones look like plushies in comparison.”

    Noreena quirked an eyebrow; there was so much of the Qwaar-Jet she still didn’t know even after having the ship under her command for four whole months. The massive Godship had proven rather secretive about its capabilities early on in this lull in the War, only to open up after persistent badgering from its Khar, who had no intention of going into battle without knowing the full range of technologies at her disposal. Only during an actual fight would the ship tell her anything particularly useful about what she wanted to know. Usually said information got press-ganged into work within seconds, much to Noreena's annoyance.

    She pondered ranting at the Qwaar-Jet for stonewalling her out of yet another useful tidbit of knowledge, then shrugged in defeat. Ranting never sped things up, and usually induced the Progenitor super-dreadnaught to continue stalling even more on its self-disclosure.

    Though, she wondered, if he’s not gonna tell me what the drones are all about, then why let Progie in down there? He’ll just come up and tell me, like he just did. Unless...he did want me to know about them. But why use Progie, then?

    She gave up on wondering, and accessed the camera feeds to the Hangars Progie had mentioned. As expected, she got a simple feed denied message in Progenitor lettering. Her patience promptly flicked down a hyperspace window.

    C’mon Qwaar, stop being so fucking cute, she thought angrily. If it’s something that can help me protect these traders, tell me. I thought we were through with this bullcrap!

    Silence answered back. Noreena gritted her teeth in disgust, then folded her arms irritably.

    Fine! Be that way.

    Then her Sensors Manager pinged at her as if pleading for her to get distracted from her current line of thought. She turned her attention to it, mentally muttering a string of imprecations at the Qwaar-Jet. She then shifted mental gears. The expected enemy ambush had finally come within sensor range.

    “All right, everybody,” she said to the Bridge. “We’ve got incoming.”

    Commander Revkiir, her Vaygr Executive Officer, looked up from pecking out the latest crew evaluation on her datapad. She flipped her long blonde ponytail over one shoulder, and raised her intense blue eyes to Noreena’s nearest camera.

    “Fleet size and elements?” she asked as she quickly tucked the datapad into one of her command chair’s many compartments.

    “Imperialists—looks like someone in their High Command finally came up with a battlecruiser design they liked. There’s three of those, and about six Qwaar-Jet IIs escorting ‘em. Two carriers, six destys, and about twenty-some frigs, most of ‘em Marine. And yeah, enough fighters buzzing around to give me a headache.”

    “Sounds like they were expecting us to bring a standard escort fleet—carriers, battlecruisers, and such,” Revkiir noted as her left eyebrow arched elegantly into her forehead.

    “And not the Qwaar-Jet,” Noreena concluded with a wicked grin. “One good thing about Ash floating past the Outer Rim? Nobody’s as smart as he is.”

    Revkiir matched Noreena’s expression, a bloodthirsty gleam in her sapphire eyes.

    “I’ll take care to thank the Gods for that after we’re done,” she remarked with dark glee. “Red alert! All hands to battle stations!”

    Noreena nodded mentally to herself as she shifted her mind into combat mode. She kept the Qwaar-Jet in its folded up form as the distance between the two fleets shrank towards the inevitable confrontation.

    To this day, not even Progie had come up with a way of putting the ship’s impressive hull armor’s material onto the wing cannons. He knew how already: simply turn the barrels into rectangles rather than cylinders. However, duplicating that armor still proved a monumental task even his intelligent brain couldn't wrap itself around. Such a shortcoming made the guns vulnerable, simply because they couldn't be replaced should a lucky shot from a cultist ship took any of them out. As a result, she preferred to keep the Godship folded up until the very last minute. Its armor protected its guns and interior more than well enough to allow for such a lazy tactic.

    Then a torrent of information smashed into Noreena’s mind. She reeled from it as she sputtered out a string of Vaygr cursewords on the shipwide coms. The crew, long accustomed to their Captain ranting Qwaar out with her usual scatological inventiveness, simply continued working as if her cursing were the most normal thing.

    It took Noreena several stunned seconds to not only pull herself together, but to make sense of what had just poured into her brain. Now blueprints and statistics gleamed with brilliant intensity in her thoughts.

    She grinned hugely.

    I’ll forgive you this time Qwaar. Just, for the love of your Khar, do NOT let it happen again.

    “Hey Progie,” she called out. “Those drones? Keepers of Qwaar-Jet. You do the math.”

    The scientist had plopped into the Bridge’s primary science station; he’d been assigned as the Qwaar-Jet’s Chief Engineer due to his expertise with both Progenitor and conventional technologies. Noreena herself had given him his field promotion to Lieutenant. Most crewmembers had become accustomed to handling his position over them, but outside Alliance personnel always gawked at why a civilian who wasn't even a noncom had such prestige onboard a military ship.

    He glanced up at the nearby camera in surprise. Then his eyes widened into saucers.

    “Keepers of...oh my God,” he abruptly sputtered. “They’re screwed aren’t they?”

    Noreena’s grin turned particularly nasty.

    “With a rusty Blade Interceptor up their asses,” she replied with a laugh. "Sideways."


    Chapter 2

    Noreena eyed the distance between the two fleets. The final meter to the range of the Qwaar-Jet’s long-distance ions fell away. She grinned broadly as she sent the command to open the ship’s long angular wings. Weapons systems flashed to life, their eager hum heightening her readiness for the coming battle.

    “Okay, the punch bowl has arrived, and the party is on!” she shouted. “They're in my range! All escort ships get ready to open fire! Stay close to your merchies, and draw all enemy fire away from them.”

    An answering stream of reports surged from the Bridge crew and the cluster of Alliance ships huddled around the merchant vessels trailing the Qwaar-Jet. Noreena quickly wrapped her convoy’s merchants in the protective gravitic bubble of the Qwaar-Jet’s rift drive; this would keep their casualties down to a minimum while the combat vessels did their best to wipe the floor with their enemies. She then opened fire with the Qwaar-Jet’s heaviest and longest-ranged ion cannons.

    Blue beams flashed between the Godship and the Imperialist fleet, scoring direct hits on the leading battlecruiser. Brilliant orange explosions peppered the massive ship’s hull. Noreena continued to fire, battering away at the three massive Imperial battlecruisers first. They would prove the hardest of the lot to bring down, which meant that she had to focus her attention on them first.

    Meanwhile the Imperialist fleet’s strikecraft and corvettes hurtled towards the convoy and its protectors at devastating speeds. Its frigates trailed behind them, readying their ion cannons and missile launchers.

    Once she had battered away sufficiently at the battlecruisers to ensure they wouldn’t harass the Qwaar-Jet’s guns too much once they got into range, she turned her attention to the drones in the massive ship’s secondary hangars. Finding the launch command proved easy enough now with all the Qwaar-Jet Keepers’ information available to her. She transmitted it as quickly as she could.

    The secondary hangars’ hatches slid open, and hundreds of small black craft spewed out at bewildering speed, their blue engine trails painting the Sorelis Nebula with yet another splash of brilliant color. Like their mothership, they sported a design steeped in triangular symmetry, and three angular wings. Unlike the Qwaar-Jet, their wings carried compact micro-pulse maneuvering thrusters, and their noses sported a trio of tiny ion cannons.

    The horde of Keepers reached the waves of Imperialist fighters at twice the speed needed to reduce a living pilot to a smear of goo on their cockpit’s rear wall, and opened fire with unerring accuracy. Every single shot fired hit an enemy fighter’s weak points, turning those ships into blazing fireballs within milliseconds. Within minutes, there was not a single Imperialist fighter left. The corvettes had fared somewhat better, only to discover that the little drones had the same powerful armor as the Qwaar-Jet. Noreena imagined their crews were now panicking at the realization that they might as well be shooting blanks.

    Then Noreena realized the Keeper drones would work best when micromanaged at a level only a Khar could provide. Despite their very sharp AI programming, they would need guidance and direction from a living mind that could improvise effectively in a fight. She quickly absorbed the requisite command proccesses from the Qwaar-Jet’s database, then directed the fighters into several large swarms. She then ordered each swarm to completely overwhelm and destroy any of the Qwaar-Jet IIs. They turned on a small one-credit coin, and began blasting away at their new targets with the same ruthless precision.

    Okay, that’ll keep the QJIIs from harassing the merchies. Now about getting these battlecruisers in worse shape than they are now...

    She continued her long-range bombardment with the Progenitor Godship’s heavy ion cannons as she closed the distance between the two fleets. Her escorting ships added a slew of missiles, ion beams, and railgun slugs to her battering. Long-range missiles and equally long-rang ion beams spewed from the Imperialist fleet, Fireballs peppered the air around the Qwaar-Jet; each one had once been an Alliance ship lending aid to the Godship. Then, several crawling moments later, one of the three Imperialist battlecruisers finally crumbled under the constant barrage, exploding into a dazzling white fireball that sent debris smashing into its fellow ships. The other two soon lost considerable chunks off their hull and weapons systems, and struggled to keep up with the rest of their fleet. Several more minutes of heavy fire from the combined fleet finished off the second one, and the debris from both battlecruisers’ demise handily dispatched their badly damaged third companion and blew a good-sized chunk off a nearby carrier with a brilliant pyrotechnic display.

    Then the Imperialist fleet opened fire with the rest of its weaponry. They had just come into range for railguns and smaller missiles, and now used every resource they had against the massive ship in a bid to knock out some of its cornucopia of wing guns. Noticeably missing from the conflagration were the enemy fleet’s six Qwaar-Jet IIs; they flew sluggishly behind their fleet as Qwaar-Jet’s Keepers continued to wreak havoc on them. Noreena winced as the full power of the Keepers became obvious to her as ship after ship crumbled spectacularly under their steady assault. She had never seen that many Qwaar-Jet IIs crumbling so fast under the massed attack of mere fighters.

    It’s like watching Kadeshi swarmers pumped up on spaceship steroids or something. Holy crap.

    Then the convoy’s escort fleet's numbers reached Noreena's awareness. Swearing inventively at Taiidani stubbornness, Noreena quickly went into action to aid her escorts’ efforts. The Qwaar-Jet’s entire weapons grid, save for its main gun, opened fire on the nearest Imperialist targets.

    “Thanks for the help!” one Vaygr destroyer captain called out as a nearby Imperialist missile destroyer collapsed under a flurry of ion beams from the Qwaar-Jet.

    His ship quickly let loose with a salvo at another destroyer, which dove towards it in a bid to make up for its lost companion. The Imperialist ship heaved under the bombardment, then promptly lost a full quarter of its forward hull. The Vaygr destroyer quickly closed in, and opened fire with its two forward-mounted ion cannons - a gift from the Hiigarans - finishing off its opponent with surprising ease.

    “Watch out, people, they’re going for wide-angled firing solutions!” an Acolyte CAG yelled to his squadron as they flew around missiles spewing from a nearby Imperialist frigate.

    The group of Acos quickly dove at the frigate, blasting away at its bridge with their missiles, then pounding its hull with railgun slugs. A single ion beam from the Qwaar-Jet finished their target off, allowing them to peel away and harass the next Imperialist ship in range.

    Noreena turned the bulk of her attention back to the Qwaar-Jet’s Keeper drones. The obviously sentient Godship was more than capable of dealing with prioritzing its ion cannons’ targets while aiding Alliance ships in the dangerous work of surviving during a battle. She noted the large swarms of Keepers now finishing off the remaining Qwaar-Jet IIs, and grinned evilly. Once the last of the Imperialist heavy cruisers had collapsed under their bombardment, she directed her new favorite weapons to deal with the carriers while she helped her escorts mop up the remainder of the enemy fleet.

    After several more moments of frantic fighting, the final explosions began to fade from the Sorelis Nebula as the last Imperialist ships succumbed to the Alliance’s attacks. Then all fell silent.

    Annnd that’s that, Noreena thought with icy satisfaction. She opened her eyes again, and took in the view of her neural-control station within its glowing blue forcefield bubble. Such a sight always calmed her after a fight.

    “To any Alliance ship who can hear me, please respond,” a cool male voice abruptly crackled on a little-used frequency. “We request permission to dock, repeat, we request permission to dock.”

    The man repeated his message again, his voice as calm and collected as before. He sounded like someone performing a routine task, rather than calling for assistance after a battle. Noreena arched an eyebrow as she brought up her Sensors Manager and searched for the signal’s source. An expanding yellow circle suddenly appeared, indicating the source’s location—that cluster of asteroids halfway to the Sorelis Nebula’s central area that the convoy had passed before the Imperialist attack.

    Noreena switched to her visual feeds, and zoomed in on the coordinates, which lay very close to the largest asteroid in the cluster.

    Then she blinked in total surprise, shook her head, and blinked again.

    Near that asteroid hovered three Kadeshi swarmers. They looked exactly as they had from the Kushan datafiles on the Garden of Kadesh.

    Is this someone's idea of a joke?


    *****

    Yes, explanations forthcoming in the next few chapters. This one's got so much happening, I can't really afford to go slow on the beginning.

    Atmawpn, you TOTALLY got it right. I had to post these two chapters after seeing your reaction. There was just no way to try and downplay or spin-control that one.
    Last edited by Chrome; 18th Mar 09 at 9:12 PM.

  2. #2
    Xero
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    I want a QJ keeper!!

    great job DC, fun as always, and getting me in trouble as always... these damn officers... expecting me to work... "I'm reading damnit!"

    keep up the good work (and posting pace!)


    Edit: W00t first post on a Legacies story =D

  3. The Studio Senior Member Homeworld Senior Member  #3
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    Oh, for reference as to what those Keepers generally look like? Look for the Keeper Attack Droid in Buggo's big Homeworld Concept Art thread in HW Discussions forum. They're the pokey blue things. Think similar to those with that shiny QJ-hull metal on them.

  4. Boardwars Senior Member  #4
    WPN not PWN atmawpn's Avatar
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    Yep, I'd imagine them to be severely beefed up versions of the pesky things that kept ripping my fleet to pieces in HW2. I suppose what makes them dangerous is that they're just a different colour from the standard Keeper attack drones we've seen in HW2, leaving it open for plenty of underestimation...

    And meanwhile, the Kadeshi mystery... I guess if they're coming on board the Alliance you'll have to figure out a theory on how they managed to squeeze four frigate class ion cannons onto a single frigate before any other non-Ancient race did. That one has always left me puzzled.
    I have no strong feelings one way or the other.
    Epilogue, Truth Seeker, Divinity - Book 1: Wrath of the Gods , Interstellar Odyssey

  5. #5
    In Hibernation EarthBorn's Avatar
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    Nice start DC.

    However, I have a question: Are the Somtaaw the only Kiith who have their own fleet? I guess I'd be nice if some of the other Kiith's fleet were...presented.

    Otherwise keep up the pace...




  6. The Studio Senior Member Homeworld Senior Member  #6
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    Yes Atma I'll work on that as Progie will definitely be quizzing them about their technology--how can he not? Ya know, one way to power four frig sized ion cannons on a single frigate drive reactor comes to mind from Cataclysm...not sure if I'll use that, but it could fit.

    QJ's Keepers probably are a bit meaner and more angular looking than Sajuuk's, though. I'll draw out some concepts of them tomorrow for the Art Dump thread. For now, just assume three rapid-fire ion cannons instead of the stuff on the concept picture's mounts, and some pointier wings.

    Hmm, good question EB. Thanks for bringing that to my attention. :nod: Might be able to make an opening for the Sobani fleet at least. No promises though.

  7. #7
    Wow DC that is great, you have mande Noreena into Qwaar-Jet, she actually likes the battles and the ahnialation. Talk about pain and enslavement.
    Crusnik- A term used to describe a significant amount of background information. One Crusnik is around 5 pages single spaced 10 pt font.


  8. Child's Play Donor  #8
    Never Know What Hit 'Em PULSTAR's Avatar
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    Oh, jeez Chrome, did you have to post this now? Right before I have to go to class?


    Anyway, great stuff, as always!



  9. #9
    KadeshiZelot
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    KEDSHI!!! (does crazy dance of of joy while laughing insanly enough to get him commited) I JUST KNEW THAT WE WOULD MAKE AN APPERENCE! (does his second crazy dance of joy that involves him bouncing around in a circle on his ass before jumping in his swamer and joining his brothers) beware of the crazy Kedshi who laughs like a hyena, for he is not only crazy, but he is truly fanaticle.

    And could you tell me what Acolyte III, Vaygr AC, Acolyte CAG looks like? And since when did Vaygr destroyers have ion cannons?

    Edit: Do you think we'll get to see Noreena with her hair again, I mean it's been four months, and I'm sure she would have used the Hair lengthening treatment that Makaan had done so she couls skip the bad-hair-style days.
    Last edited by KadeshiZelot; 21st Sep 06 at 1:35 PM.

  10. #10
    ooh oooh ooh i can answer that, the magic of creativity! And if it's after a game you can do what ever you want with it!

  11. The Studio Senior Member Homeworld Senior Member  #11
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    Vaygr destys had ion cannons since I believe PDS 6.0 And as I totally LOVE PDS, most of the ships in Legacies have a more PDS-esque rig with point-defense guns, primary guns, secondary guns, etc. Also as this is set 5 years after the Vaygr War, I imagine the Vaygr would've been smart enough to make up some of their shortcomings since then...like ganking a few Imperialist ion cannons in the post-War fallout between the two groups.

    Elson, think about it...she's always liked a good fight. Remember her past in Legacies I where she got into barfights and arguments on a regular basis? When Makaan kept getting ragged on by this one guy in II for being a wounded near-cripple, what does she do? Certainly didn't waste time TALKING to the idiot. Recall the line "Don't forget to call me Qwaar-Jet when you wake up..."

    And yes, you can blame Riess for instilling a love for everyone's favorite religious nuts in HW1. Which reminds me, now I'll have to badger him into posting his Kadeshi stuff on the Art Dump thread. *cackles madly* With a swarmer. Flown by a hot Kadeshi pilot girl.

  12. #12
    Xero
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    As far as other Kiith fleets are concerned, I had always assumed they were back defending Hiigara from any more surprise Ashoran attacks...

  13. #13
    Member JRL3001's Avatar
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    Sweeeeeeeet! Volume III has begun! !! I love how you ended II on such a hign and hopefull note and how III jumps right back into the thick of the war

    "I am a Ranger. We walk in the dark places no others will enter. We stand on the bridge and no-one may pass. We live for the One, we die for the One."
    Marcus to Neroon, Grey 17 is Missing (Babylon 5)

  14. The Studio Senior Member Homeworld Senior Member  #14
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    That's the idea. Didn't make sense to have the rising action the other two had when there's so much that's got to happen in this one. So that meant some action and craziness right away.

  15. The Studio Senior Member Homeworld Senior Member  #15
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    Oh yeh. Update. This is probably going to be the last 3-chapter job for a while, and may be the last update for a little bit. Depends on how creative I'm feeling over the weekend.

    Enjoy the monsoon while it lasts.

    ****

    Chapter 3

    “I thought we wiped them all out when...” Karan’s voice trailed off as she mused the situation’s implications.

    Her face showed a thoughtful expression on the Bridge’s main screen. Noreena stood before it, decked out in her Captain’s uniform, complete with white beret and the Qwaar-Jet Khar’s sword hanging at her side. Her coppery hair had grown out just enough to finally take a lengthening treatment, and now hung halfway down her back at the length it’d been when she’d shaved it off her head almost a year ago. She wore it in its usual braid, for she had to keep it out of the way of the control station’s neural cabling whenever she plugged into the Qwaar-Jet.

    “You and me both,” Noreena commented, shaking her head in bewilderment. “Every logical person said the Exile Fleet destroyed every last Kadeshi when they went through the Garden. How in the bloody hell can there be three intact swarmers, much less pilots who know how to fly them?!”

    Karan nodded. She looked as bewildered as Noreena felt.

    “Where are they now?” Noreena asked, turning to the command chair’s current occupant.

    Jerel, Noreena’s Operations Officer, and the second officer of the ship, perked up. He wore his Somtaaw uniform, but in a nod to his Vaygr heritage, he’d gotten a Vaygr V-logo emblazoned onto one shoulder in place of the Beastslayer emblem. His facial scars had faded noticeably save for one that still sliced through his eyebrow and trailed delicately to his cheekbone. His hair, grown out over the last four months, now trailed down his back in a short ponytail. He now looked dashing enough that Noreena sensed several female crewmembers quietly ogling him from their stations.

    “In the main Hangar," he reported crisply. "They came in just five minutes ago. Commander Revkiir’s down there talking to them now."

    “Then that’s where I’m going,” she said. “M’Lady, any last advice?”

    “Don’t bother trying to reason with them,” Karan replied with a crooked grin. “I did my best a hundred years ago, and look where it got us back then.”

    “Right,” Noreena nodded. “Thanks.”

    She then turned and strode to the Bridge elevator. The ship, being a sentient Progenitor super-dreadnaught, already knew where its Khar was headed, and sent the elevator there without a single word or thought from her. The ride was long and uneventful, much to Noreena’s relief. She had to figure out how in the hell to address those swarmers’ pilots.

    Well, for one thing are they really Kadeshi, or did they just happen to find the swarmers somewhere? If they are Kadeshi, how in the fucking hell did they survive the Kushans back then, and what in the Qwaardamn blazes are they doing outside of the Garden NOW?! I mean c'mon where we are, it's several months' normal hyper away. How the hell CAN they be Kadeshi?

    She paced about the large elevator’s interior, pondering her situation. She wasn’t an ambassador, but she would become one very soon. After four months into her position as Captain, and she still hadn’t gotten the hang of speaking formally or tactfully.

    And why would they want to talk to the Alliance? The Exiles are a member, and they trashed the Garden as far as any 'deshi would be concerned. Thank the GODS I’m telepathic..this could well be a trap of some kind. Wouldn’t put it past Mr. Sicko Beastly if he’s finally making his comeback...

    "Well then cuz you’re telepathic, Noreena dear," she muttered outloud to herself, "you should be able to find the right words to say...you ARE the Qwaar-Jet Khar, right?"

    The elevator’s lights blinked faintly as if trying to emulate the sound of a cheerful beep. She quirked one eyebrow, then shrugged.

    “Glad you think so, Qwaar,” she said to the wall with a crooked grin. The elevator’s lights flashed more faintly, but still agreeably.

    It had become blatantly obvious early on that the Qwaar-Jet was a good deal more sentient—and opinionated—than the Sajuuk. Karan’s experience with her Godship had promptly run out of usefulness one week after the Battle of Mortann. For one thing, the Qwaar-Jet could be extremely helpful when it wanted to. Progie and his translation crews had often reported cases of the Qwaar-Jet guiding them in their identification of Bridge or station console controls by flashing screens, blinking text up for them to read, or using a sequence of flashing lights to direct them to the proper station or system.

    Noreena had long become used to the lights blinking in agreement or protest to something she or someone else said. Many times someone would make an off-the-wall remark only to have the room’s lights flash wildly in a manner approximating laughter.

    The elevator’s doors slid open, revealing the Qwaar-Jet’s main Hangar. She strode out, then nodded mentally as a pair of Vaygr Elite Guardsmen fell into step besides her. After the Battle of Mortann, Makaan had ordered the Vaygr ensure his girlfriend’s safety by having a pair of Elite Guardsmen trail her every public step. Noreena didn't particularly care to have bodyguards, but after hearing reports of how Elite Guardsmen dealt with their enemies, she was more than glad to have their protection.

    Noreena strode directly towards the three swarmers. A trio of space-suited figures stood in a cluster next to the one closest to the Hangar’s massive entryway, which now led out to a flat wall of folded-up cannons as the Qwaar-Jet had closed up its long wings again. She spotted Revkiir’s blonde ponytail shimmering in the Hangar's bright lighting as she nodded at the tallest of the three—a pilot wearing an armored red-and-black spacesuit. The other two pilots wore white body armor instead of red, and stood a respectful two paces behind him.

    She reached out her mind to the three, and blinked in surprise at the thoughts she sensed. The red-suited man was the oldest, with a mind so sharply clear that it amazed her; he was clearly quite disciplined and intelligent. He also bore no hostility whatsoever to the Alliance crewmembers going about. Only a faint edge of well-hidden desperation clouded his thoughts. Something worried him immensely, and Noreena suspected it was the reason he was here in this Hangar.

    The two white-suited pilots felt much younger to her; their thoughts had a more chaotic pattern to them. The older of the two had a similar mindset towards the people around him as the red-suited man, for he regarded everything around him with interest. The younger of the two, however, had a distinct air of disgust, even revulsion towards her surroundings, as if they were irrevocably dirty. Her thoughts had a rigidity in several places that convinced Noreena of their swarmers’ origin—only a Kadeshi would have the attitude of everyone and everything being unclean here.

    Unclean indeed. Heh, that one’s more Kadeshi than the other two. This’ll be interesting.

    She finally reached Revkiir, and came to a halt next to her. Regarding the new arrivals, she spoke up in as friendly a voice as she could.

    “Greetings. I’m Captain Noreena Somtaaw...”

    Three red-tinted faceplates turned towards her; none of the pilots had removed their helmets yet. Noreena inwardly quirked an eyebrow. Most spacers considered it polite to take their suit helmets off in a pressurized area whenever someone spoke to them.

    “...and Qwaar-Jet Khar.”

    Shock exploded from all three pilots, reducing Noreena to momentary speechlessness with its intensity. The youngest wobbled slightly on her feet as if about to faint. The two men proved much hardier, and simply regarded her with quiet awe.

    Then all three pilots sank to one knee in a smooth, gliding motion. The red-suited man reached up and slowly pulled his helmet off, revealing a head of pure white hair, and the pale complexion and pink eyes of an albino. His hair was short save for one long lock swept sideways over his head and tied into a long ponytail hanging down from besides his right ear. Black bands at regular intervals along the ponytail’s length kept it orderly. He wore it looped twice while pinned to its first band. Noreena suspected that was to keep the long lock inside his suit's helmet. He kept his gaze pinned to the deck in front of Noreena’s feet. She noticed the other two pilots still hadn’t removed their helmets, but also steadily gazed at the deck before them.

    “I am Ambassador Rakim, speaking for the Protectors of Kadesh. I and my guards are your servants, Holy One,” the man said, his cool voice soft with awe.

    And Karan said not to try reasoning with them...?

    She stared dazedly for several long seconds, then blinked as she struggled to collect herself.

    “Um...you may rise,” she replied in a voice dull with stunned amazement.

    All three rose to their feet with the same graceful ease, as if they simply glided up to a standing position. Ambassador Rakim kept his pink-toned eyes pinned to the floor, however.

    “And you can look at me...if you want,” Noreena uneasily added.

    Rakim slowly slid his gaze up past Noreena’s boots, upwards to the sword at her hip, then on to the duty stripes and insignia on her chest, and finally settled it on her face. He blinked in surprise, as if he expected her to be older.

    Noreena’s mind raced as she struggled to think of something more to say in a moment turned more formal than she’d ever imagined. Then she remembered the small talk Tessar made with his visitors.

    “And who may your escorts be?” she asked in what she hoped was a suitably formal voice.

    Rakim nodded as if he’d expected her to ask this, and motioned to the taller of the two white-and-black suited pilots. He reached up and pulled off his helmet, revealing the face of a handsome young man Noreena’s age with green eyes and brown hair tinged with copper highlights. He wore a similar ponytail in the same fashion as Rakim’s, except it hung only to his chest. His nose and cheeks bore a faint sprinkling of freckles.

    “My guard and pupil, Kai,” the Ambassador said, as the young man bowed reverently to Noreena.

    He then motioned to the shorter pilot. She reached up and pulled her helmet off as if in a daze, and regarded Noreena with wide, shocked eyes of the richest blue she’d ever seen. Her hair shone a lighter shade of copper than Kai’s. Unlike the other two she wore her longer lock parted in the middle. Both portions hung freely to a length that brushed shoulders - easily fitted underneath her helmet without the need for bands like Kai’s or Rakim’s. The same splash of freckles adorned her face with greater intensity than Kai’s. She also bowed to Noreena, a bit more deeply than Kai had.

    “My other guard, Nika. She is Kai’s younger sister,” Rakim said with a nod.

    “Um, pleased to meet you,” Noreena replied with as calm a smile she could manage. Both straightened at her words, and eyed her expectantly.

    “Well,” she went on, suddenly deciding that pleasantries weren’t going to work with this group, “you said in your message after landing that you wanted to talk to me. Why?”

    “Yes, Khar. We, the Protectors, wish to join the Alliance.”

    Noreena’s eyebrows promptly shot up past the rim of her beret.

    “An Alliance whose war takes place entirely outside your sacred Garden,” she pointed out.

    “My deepest apologies, Khar, but you are mistaken,” Rakim said softly, his voice tinged with a hint of sadness. “This War has consumed the Garden as well. What we once believed was our sanctuary...is no longer safe for our people.”

    Whoa, whoa, whoa, what the hell is he talking about?!

    “The one you call Ashoran came to us in the Beginning, claiming to be a servant of that which you are, Holy One. He recruited us to the protection of the Holy One's Garden, the fleets of Qwaar-Jet's followers, the Qwaar-deesh. You may notice the name’s similarity to that of Kadesh. That was a contrivance intended to lead Ashoran's soldiers there in peacetime."

    Noreena’s eyes suddenly went so wide she felt as if they would fall out of their sockets. It was one thing to have Kadeshi offering to join the Alliance. It was quite another to have crucial pieces of Kadeshi—and thus, Kushan—history tossed about as an explanation of why they were here!

    “I see,” she replied dazedly as her mind recollected itself from its fresh shock. Then a question she had to ask on Karan’s behalf rose in her mind.

    “May I ask...how did you survive the fighting when the Exile fleet came to the Garden? The Alliance thought you were all destroyed.”

    “We didn't," Rakim replied with a solemn nod. "We were forced to rebuild our civilization with very few resources after the Harbinger of Qwaar-Jet - the Exile Fleet - left our Garden. It was a long and difficult road, and we have taken pains to convince all who passed thorugh after the Exiles that we are dead. This was done so that we may rebuild in peace, and cleanse the Garden of hostile forces later, when we are at full strength again. I can explain in greater deph at another time, if you wish."

    When Noreena simply stared at him in bewildered confusion, he went on in further detail.

    “It is a simple, and easy thing to fool ships into believing our absence now. The patrols outside of our safe areas are minimal, manned only with our most dedicated Protectors onboard each ship, so that if there is indeed a search for survivors among our people, it will not be spoken of outside the Garden. We must still protect those areas that remain sacred to us."

    Noreena nodded. The notion that the Protectors had so thoroughly worked out their plan to protect the Great Nebula despite their weakened state made perfect sense. Then another thought occurred to her.

    “How come we didn’t detect any of your ships after all this time, then?” she asked. "There's been enough activity inside and outside of the Garden since the Exiles'" - she fought for a good word, then settled on the closest - "incursion."

    “Ancient technology, that allowed us to remain completely undetected to any sensors,” Rakim replied, that smirk still on his face. “It is the same as that which aids the Keepers of the God Sajuuk in performing their sacred duty. We use it sparingly so the Zin—the Outside—would never know that we possess it.”

    Phasing?! The Kadeshi have phasing?!

    “Ah, I have overwhelmed you, Holy One,” Rakim suddenly apologized as he noticed the slackjawed expression of shock on Noreena’s face.

    She quickly shook her head, both to affirm to the Ambassador that she was fine, and to shake some sense back into herself after so many revelations in such a short period of time.

    “No, um...I’m fine. It's just a lot of information to absorb. Thank you, Ambassador.”

    “I am pleased to serve, Khar.”

    “Well...would you like to rest? I’m sure the trip’s been a long one for you.”

    Rakim shook his head serenely.

    "We do not require much in the way of rest at this time. We stowed away onboard one of the Imperialist ships in the fleet you so easily dispatched, Khar. The ride was not a long nor an uncomfortable one. We are accustomed to far longer.”

    “Oh...okay...well, I think since this is one of the Gods, would you be all right with having guest quarters onboard?”

    “Your wish is our command, Holy One.”

    Okay, that’s gonna get real old real quick....but I can’t blame ‘em. If Ash fooled ‘em into thinking he was just a servant of Qwaar-Jet, then that means their big Head God is none other than Qwaar here. No wonder I’m getting headway where Karan was just slamming into a brick wall.

    “Well in that case, how about I take you three to the Ambassadorial quarters?”

    “That is acceptable, Holy One.”

    “Well then, follow me.”

    Noreena then turned and headed towards the elevator that had brought her to the Hangar. The sound of booted feet on the floor behind her indicated the three Kadeshi had indeed followed her and her two bodyguards. In a display of sentience few people saw outside of an Unbound-controlled ship, Qwaar opened the elevator doors the moment Noreena came within reach of them. She stepped in, and waited for the guards and her three guests to join her. The moment they stood still within the chamber, its doors closed. With only a slight shift of its deck, the conveyance slid into smooth motion.

    All three Kadeshi eyed Noreena intensely as if they could discern her next orders for them from the slightest twitch in her body language. Noreena sighed inwardly, her Cores-induced calm the only thing keeping her from letting her growing exasperation show.


    Chapter 4

    “Well they didn’t look too comfortable in the large quarters, so I just got ‘em one of the 4-slot noncom bunkrooms on the lower deck,” Noreena said with a tired chuckle. “Apparently they’re huge fans of small, cramped spaces. They were absolutely thrilled, even if they didn't tell me outright. I doubt any of 'em wants to offend either me or Qwaar right now anyways. The girl was afraid—afraid! –of having an entire bedroom to herself. It’s like trained agoraphobia or something.”

    She sighed and stared at the far wall of her office. Her beret sat atop a disorganized pile of datapads on the massive obsidian-hued desk that took up most of the room. A holographic projection of Karan’s head and shoulders hovered over the desk's gleaming surface. Beyond that holographic image lay one of Qwaar’s few viewports, which showed a spectacular view of hyperspace as the convoy the Godship escorted continued on towards its destination.

    Noreena stared out that viewport for a moment, then returned her attention to Lady Sjet's hologram. She brushed aside a lock of hair that had escaped its braid when she’d taken off her beret.

    Her weariness didn’t escape Karan’s notice.

    “What is it?” she asked her former pupil.

    “The worship,” Noreena replied glumly. “Apparently I am the holiest thing to come along since the damn Garden.”

    Lady S’jet’s reaction betrayed itself first as a mischevious twinkle in her eyes, then as a broadening grin. Chuckles escaped her lips in little bursts of merry sound. Then, she finally gave in and burst into a fit of hysterical laughter.

    Noreena gave her a long-suffering stare of exasperation.

    “So not funny! It’s “yes Khar” or “Holy One” every Qwaardamn sentence! How the hell am I supposed to put up with these guys without losing it?!”

    “You should’ve seen,” Karan said once she calmed down, “how people treated me during and immediately after Landfall. You’re at least getting respectful obedience, not outright cult-like fanaticism.”

    “They are cult-like fanatics, dammit! Might I point out that Rakim said his people were recruited to guard Ashoran’s fleet?!”

    “Of course. Now...back to your report,” Lady S’jet said coolly, using a mischevious grin to take the sting out of her words.

    Noreena sighed as she shook her head. She then took a deep breath, and settled back into her chair.

    “Well, the short and long of it is that it’s all Ash's fault, like usual. He’s the one who got ‘em Protecting the Garden and all that shit. They’ve now figured out—like the rest of us—that he’s bad news and now they want into the Alliance.”

    Noreena watched as Karan blinked dazedly for a few seconds, then became very thoughtful.

    “Wait,” she said softly, as memories flashed before her eyes. “There was something familiar...about when he first mindblasted me. I thought about it off and on, and didn’t give it that much thought becuase he was, well, a cult leader, with a cultist mentality. Just like the Kadeshi.”

    “Uh huh. And?”

    “Just before the Kadeshi Ambassador greeted us, I felt a presence. I chalked it up to my becoming telepathic from the Mothership’s Core, and always thought it was simply the minds of the Kadeshi. But, by Landfall, I'd figured out how to tell different minds apart, so I’ve often wondered if there was more to the Garden than they were telling us.”

    Karan paused a moment, then stared directly at Noreena.

    “Now it all makes sense. That presence was exactly identical to what I felt just before Ashoran mindblasted me.”

    "Oh shi—[i]Ash was in the Garden back then?!/i]"

    Karan nodded.

    “I’m not going to bother trying to figure out how or why just yet,” she said quietly, “but he was there. I’m sure of it. The Core then, and the Sajuuk’s Cores later, have granted me a photographic memory.”

    “I see,” Noreena mused, now feeling even more windblown than before. “Well at least it explains their old ‘join us or be destroyed’ line...totally matches his mindblast style. Now why is that familiar to me? Not just that mindblast...something...meh. Nevermind. Guess we’re all having flashbacks right now.”

    “Was Rakim the Ambassador back then?” Karan wondered. “That could be why, but he’d have to be a very old man now.”

    “Don’t know. Haven’t asked yet, but his voice does sound like the one on the tapes. It's a little different, though. Not by much, I'll admit. He's creeping out everybody who's seen the old tapes.”

    “Well if Ashoran’s involved,” Karan mused, “that might explain why the Kadeshi had a hyperspace signature identical to our own Core at the time. Yeah, I know everyone figured they got the hyper frequency off their prison ship's hypermodule, but we might've been wrong. He could’ve given them a backengineered Core in exchange for loyalty. Maybe one of the rewards of guarding the nebula was long lifespans or somesuch.”

    “Hmm, if you do the math for thirteen generations and four thousand years at the time...that well, carry the one...works out to what, three hundred years? That’s totally feasible with a Far Jumper on hand.”

    “But why did Ashoran steal Makaan’s backengineered Core then?” Karan pointed out. “Why not just use the one the Kadeshi had?”

    “Maybe their loyalty to him’s critical to his plan, so he couldn’t spare that Core?” Noreena wondered. “There’s a lot we don’t know yet. Like how many Godships there actually are out there."

    “Perhaps the Ambassador would know. That brings me to the other thing I wanted to ask about. How open can we expect them to be with us?”

    “Pretty much, M’Lady. I haven’t picked up a lie out of any of ‘em yet,” she replied with a headshake.

    “What’s your read on them?”

    “Well...let’s see. Rakim’s got a few interesting tales to tell, but he’s just waiting for the right moment...kinda like Qwaar with information, ya know? He’s pretty up on what’s going on out there. I can feel it. And he feels to me like he’ll cooperate as long as it comes back to helping the Kadeshi. I don’t think he’ll close down on anybody else just becuase of the Unclean thing, either. Hell, it’s the farthest thing from his mind right now. He actually seems interested in meeting people. Kept nodding to everybody who went past.”

    “Wow...a reasonable Kadeshi?" Karan gaped. "That's impossible."

    “Kai’s mind feels a lot like Rakim’s. Probably why he’s his student. I’m gonna speculate here, but I think he may be his successor. He’s certainly sharp enough. I think he’ll probably defer to Rakim when it comes to telling information, though. He’s also willing to meet people and see the outside world, probably ‘cause of whatever Rakim told him about the mess they’re in.”

    “And Nika, the girl?”

    “Hardliner,” Noreena replied succinctly. “She put her helmet back on once she started seeing people on the way to their quarters. Didn’t even act like anyone else was around. Her head’s still swimming in Protector indoctrination. The only thing keeping her from totally ignoring me as some gross Unclean is this Qwaar-Jet Khar business. Seems like a tagalong as opposed to someone assigned to be there—either Kai talked Rakim into bringing her along, or Mr. Ambassador thinks she’s got potential as well. She’s certainly very intelligent. But definitely don’t expect her to be friendly or even willing to acknowledge you.”

    “Thank you for the rundown,” Karan nodded with approval. “It’s very helpful. I’ll brief Chief Intel on what you picked up. He’ll need to know to formulate any new plans based on what they’re telling us.”

    “That’d figure. What’s gonna interest me the most is how many Kadeshi agree with whoever sent Rakim out here.”

    “Indeed,” Karan sighed with a nod. “Well, I’d best be off. Chief Intel’s been after me for information ever since he got the report about the swarmers. Expect him to grill you once I finish up with him. Try to go easy on our guests in the meantime. Let them settle in and get accustomed to dealing with us. Once you think they’re ready, bring them with you to the Kuun-Lan. And don’t let anyone visit them without supervision.”

    "Yes M'Lady."

    "Good. I'll see you later."

    The S’jet-Sa closed the line. Her image winked out to be replaced with the words “End Transmission” in blue Progenitor script floating where her eyes had been.

    Noreena chuckled as a nervous pit of dread grew inside her stomach. Chief Intel’s method of getting crucial information out of officers matched an interrogation-room grilling session right down to the no-nonsense gleam in his steel gray eyes. He had a questioning strategy that left even brilliant tactical thinkers like Ifriit feeling winded after a session, for he was frighteningly talented at spotting the threads of useful information amid details the interviewees remembered, yet gave little thought to.

    She would get the grilling of a lifetime when it came to discussing the Kadeshi, and she didn’t like the notion of him trying that on any of her three guests. Rakim and Kai would likely take that kind of interrogation in stride since they were probably anticipating such a session from the Alliance brass anyways. Nika on the other hand...

    ...yeah that won’t be pretty. Like Collision Riot-grade “won’t be pretty.”

    “Interesting day, my ass,” she muttered to herself through gritted teeth.


    Chapter 5

    Noreena peered around the massive science lab. Equipment and tools littered every tabletop. Datapads sat in a huge heap atop a desk brought over from Advanced Engineering Lab Five, while a large cargo box containing several Mini-Cores sat wedged against several other crates stacked up in one corner.

    “I see you’re still moving in,” she remarked with a lopsided grin. "Four months later."

    “Yup,” a voice replied from her shoulder. Noreena nearly startled, then forced herself to calm down. She then turned to see Progie standing to her left.

    Then she blinked again; she hadn’t sensed his jumble of disorganized yet intense thoughts getting louder as he got closer. She eyed him quizzically, wondering how he’d managed to hide himself telepathically from her.

    How’d you DO that?!

    Guess?
    A mental version of Progie’s voice answered.

    Noreena sputtered in shock while he broke into a huge grin.

    “No it’s not that strong,” he replied, “but it’s enough to shield my thoughts if I think hard enough. It’d take a pretty damn loud thought to get me to even hear it, though. Kinda like what you were just thinking there. Fromwhat I figured out, the range is something like two, maybe five meters before I don’t pick up anything at all.”

    “Early Core exposure,” Noreena said with a nod at the box full of Mini-Cores. “Probably all those plus Qwaar’s systems.”

    Progie nodded.

    “My thoughts too,” he remarked. “Guess I won’t be quite so wrinkly at Grandpa’s age then, huh?”

    Noreena snickered at the comical grin that flashed across his face..

    “So,” he said, quickly changing the topic, “I hear we have Kadeshi onboard and they’re wanting to join the Alliance. True or false?”

    “True,” Noreena replied.

    “Oooh. How soon can I talk to ‘em about their tech?” he asked with a huge hopeful smile. He widened his eyes to properly suit a puppy-dog expression, and locked them onto his Captain.

    “I’d have to ask them, but I think they’ll be okay with it.”

    The scientist’s brows drew together in puzzlement.

    “I thought they were Kadeshi.”

    “Yeah. They are, but they’ll listen to me.”

    Progie gaped at her in befuddlement. Noreena sighed.

    “Qwaar-Jet Khar. Qwaar-deesh is Ash’s cult. Note how Qwaar-deesh sounds if you say it real fast?”

    “Qwaar-deesh....oh. Kadesh. So Qwaar’s their top God then?”

    “Yup. And their being Protectors and all that shit is Ash’s fault.”

    “Seriously?”

    “Seriously.”

    “So when can I talk to ‘em?”

    Trust you to come back to the topic that’s really on your mind, Noreena thought with an inward smirk.

    Not today,” she replied repressively. “I just got off a very long grilling session with Chief Intel. It took pulling out every threat short of a mindblast to keep him from coming over here and interrogating ‘em right away. I got him an appointment for tomorrow morning, so you’ll have to honor that too. Oh, and I’ll be supervising. It’s only fair to them.”

    “Okay. Just tell me when and I’ll be there,” the scientist replied with a sparkling grin.

    “I’m sure you will,” she replied grumpily.

    “So, what do they look like?”

    “You’re really interested in them, aren’t you?”

    “Well," he began, "My first assignment in the Advanced Engineering Labs was trying to figure out how they got four ion cannons onto a single frigate chassis, and power them. Let’s just say I got a crush on Kadeshi engineering afterwards. And my report said I didn't have any idea short of some mechanical variation of Beast EPA. Anyways...about them?”

    “Well, okay. The Ambassador’s an albino. White hair, pink eyes, pale skin. Looks good on him. The younger guy? Well, he looks like he’s my age or a little younger. Serious like the Ambassador. The girl...your age...freckles. Lotsa freckles. Didn’t see much of her—she likes wearing her helmet a little too much.”

    Progie blinked, then narrowed his eyes at her.

    “Were you just reading my mind then?”

    “Oh. Um no, I wasn’t.”

    “Well, um...I like freckles,” he replied shyly. The brief burst of hormonally induced curiosity she sensed from him quickly explained what he was talking about.

    She slapped a hand to her face with an exasperated sigh.

    Oh gawd, don’t tell me he gets a crush on Nika. WORST PAIRING EVER. She’d probably kill him for breathing on her or some shit.

    The lab’s lights flashed in what passed for a gale of laughter from the Qwaar-Jet. Progie eyed the lab’s ceiling with a baffled look, then glanced to Noreena.

    “What the hell was that all about?”

    “Qwaar’s got an interesting sense of humor,” she replied, “but you already knew that.”

    “Uh huh. At my expense, right?”

    Noreena nodded with an impish grin. Progie sighed, and rolled his own eyes.

    “Figures,” he muttered. “Now I’m the one getting in shit instead of Rey.”

    The lights flashed even more wildly as Noreena laughed at his exasperated expression.
    Last edited by Chrome; 18th Mar 09 at 9:55 PM.

  16. Boardwars Senior Member  #16
    WPN not PWN atmawpn's Avatar
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    That was an enlightening first encounter. I'd expect more details to come with coming chapters, but it's a nice overview on how the Kadeshi got the superior tech they seemed to possess. And Progie... what ideas does he have now I wonder, given their crazed fanaticism.

    I can't help but feel that Qwaar Jet is starting to steal the show at times. You're making the ship a rather unique and hard-to-ignore character.

  17. The Studio Senior Member Homeworld Senior Member  #17
    Not Making Lemonade Chrome's Avatar
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    Hmm, I'll keep an eye out for that. Thanks for the tip, Atma.

    And yes, there's more revelations to come. :nod:

  18. Boardwars Senior Member  #18
    WPN not PWN atmawpn's Avatar
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    Mind you, it was just a feeling I got, not that it's bad or anything. In my opinion, the amount of Qwaar Jet activity you've got currently is just right. You could even include slightly more Qwaar Jet without stealing the show too much. As things stand right now, Qwaar Jet is excellent for adding juice to the story.

  19. Child's Play Donor  #19
    Never Know What Hit 'Em PULSTAR's Avatar
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    Very nice indeed (as always ). I love the twist on the Kadeshi, bringing them in as allies or at least apparent allies instead of outright enemies. They definitely deserve to be fleshed out more than they were in the game originally. As for Progie and the Kadeshi, well, we've seen how well your star and Makaan worked out, so who knows?

    Keep up the great work, Chrome, looking forward to seeing more!

  20. #20
    In Hibernation EarthBorn's Avatar
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    I love the way in which the all-powerful Qwaar Jet has a nice personality.
    It will be interesting to see how the whole Kadeshi thing turns out.

  21. #21
    Great stuff, DeepChrome. Starting yesterday I've been catching up and I'm glad to see the story's still alive and kicking with epic fun goodness. I loved the aftermath scenes at the end of Legacies II best out of all your most recent stuff, although it's all still wonderful. You really captured the fact that the Alliance got their rears handed to them on a platter and that the Qwaar-Jet was all that was standing in Ashoran's way.

    Oh, and it will be so fun to see the Kadeshi back in action .

    A few minor nitpicks (as a fellow writer I felt constructive criticism might be useful). I have to agree with someother people that there should be more of a non-Somtaaw Hiigaran presence. Much as the Somtaaw are cool and all it'd be nice to maybe see some Sobani, Manaani, or Paktu presences? Either that or you could explain that all the kiithid except for the Somtaaw merged together into one superfleet militarily speaking although they still retain separate cultural and political identities.

    Also, I don't know if I was the only one but I found the Qwaar-Jet-II and Qwaar-Jet confusing. I had to make a conscious effort when I saw Qwaar-Jet II to not think of a giant obsidian-colored supereship. While I like the ideas of Qwaar-Jet-IIs (always a fan of Enterprise-E's neo-Imperialist work) on principle I feel as though they should be avoided just not to confuse the reader.

    Maybe you could instead make the Imperialist super-capital of choice the Vanaar-Jet? Both it and the Qwaar-Jet Mk. II are Enterprise-E's design (although the V-Jet moreso I will admit). If you could get his permission to use the ship for the Imperialists that would go along way I think.

    Just a suggestion.

    Oh, yes. And where are the Republicans?

  22. The Studio Senior Member Homeworld Senior Member  #22
    Not Making Lemonade Chrome's Avatar
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    Good points, and I'll definitely see about having the Imperialists quietly phase out the QJ name to something nastier sounding. For one thing they might retire them in favor of the new battlecruisers we just saw.

    Hmm, other kiith fleets....I'll see what I can do. The Qwaar-Jet certainly has to re-rendezvous back to the Alliance fleet. That'd be a good time...hmm...yes.

    Anyways, I appreciate the honest input and nitpicks.

  23. #23
    the old QJs were cool though, awe....

    Well with the REal QJ out and about those foolish imperials will have to think twice aobut it, but what for the rebels?

  24. #24
    Daishogun
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    first post

    i been reading this story without an account for a long time. i figured its about time I say how good this story is, so i just went and got an account. I read a lot of fantasy/scifi books in my spare time, and this one would defintally be worth buying even if it was pretty expensive. So then, keep writing this awesome story.
    Last edited by Daishogun; 26th Sep 06 at 12:32 PM.

  25. #25
    omega
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    So, the QJ has a flaw in its weapons being vulnverable to attack. Nice drawback me thinks. And i can't wait to see what the Bentusi are bringing to the fight.

  26. #26
    Daishogun
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    i think a new player is gonna be showing up soon, else than the bentusi, i mean if the giant bentusi army is gonna be popping in soon then there has to be a counterbalance to offset such a gain for the alliance. just my 2 cents worth of thought.

  27. The Studio Senior Member Homeworld Senior Member  #27
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    Ok, FINALLY worked out the latest stuff....here we go.

    ******

    Chapter 6

    Noreena watched from the conference room’s doorway as Chief Intel strode down the long triangular hallway, then stepped into the nearby elevator. Its doors whizzed shut behind his back with their customary speed, and he was gone.

    “That went...well,” she remarked as she stepped back into the room.

    Well, Nika didn’t try to kill him for being an absolute maniac for details, he managed to somehow NOT piss me off either, and Kai actually helped clarify some things without feeling pressured into doing it. Yeah. It went well.

    She regarded her three guests thoughtfully, pondering when they would be up for chatting with Progie about their technology.

    They had settled back into their seats around the elliptical black table after Intel had departed. Rakim sat at its head, per Noreena’s suggestion that he control the pace and intensity of the interview with a quiet display of dominance. Kai had taken up a chair to Rakim’s right, and looked on calmly while Nika took the seat to Rakim’s left. Both men had left their suit gloves and helmets in their bunkroom in a show of goodwill to Intel. Nika, on the other hand, continued to wear both her gloves and helmet as well as her suit’s armored components.

    “Indeed, Khar,” Rakim said quietly.

    A satisfied gleam flickered in his eyes. He showed no sign of having experienced what Noreena considered Intel’s most intense questioning session ever. Much to her surprise, her telepathic awareness indicated he’d actually enjoyed the experience.

    “I expected no less from such a seasoned Protector of Hiigara,” he went on calmly. “He was as thorough as I expected, and then some. I would hope the Elders of your Alliance take pride in his discipline. He gave us exactly what we needed to know in exchange, and I suspect not a whit more than he trusts us with. Fine Protection indeed.”

    Kai nodded his agreement, his face betraying a slight flush of excitement despite his outward calm.

    “They certainly do, Ambassador,” Noreena replied with a grin. He had proven much easier to talk with than she’d previously thought. He had quickly noticed Noreena’s exasperation with the overuse of phrases like “Yes Khar” and “Holy One” and adjusted his manner and conversation accordingly. He used those words only sparingly now. The same couldn’t be said for the other two, but since they spoke very rarely, Noreena could tolerate it.

    She glanced to Nika, who’d been a suited statue from the beginning of the interview to its end. More than once she’d seethed in outrage or scowled in disgust at Intel’s deeper lines of questioning, but Rakim’s calm and acceptance of the man’s challenge had kept her from reacting outwardly. Now the Kadeshi woman yearned to retreat to the bunkroom with her fellows, where she did not have to concern herself with petty Unclean things such as the gathering of knowledge about what she considered sacred matters.

    “You may retire to your room if you wish,” Noreena spoke up. “I’m certainly not going to overload you with questioners today.”

    “Thank you, Khar. We would not mind another session if the Alliance wishes to inquire further,” Rakim replied calmly as Kai nodded agreeably to his words. “There is much knowledge to share if we are to work together. However, we do require sustenance before we may continue. Would it be possible to meet with your next inquirer in one of your hours?”

    “Of course, Ambassador,” Noreena said with a nod, grateful that Qwaar’s bunkrooms all had food synthesizers built into them. She doubted the Kadeshi would appreciate eating around several hundred crewmembers at the messhall. Besides, it gave them some time and space to themselves.

    “You can go now.”

    “As you wish,” Rakim replied as he rose and bowed to her. Kai and Nika quickly followed suit, and bowed as well. Then he strode out of the conference room with the pair two paces behind him.

    Hmm, one hour. I got the perfect person to let at ‘em next. Hehehehe.

    She pulled out her hand-com, and dialed the scientist’s number.

    “Progie,” came the swift response.

    “You, Kadeshi, technology talk. Conference room Three. One hour.”

    “Oooooh! I’ll be there!”

    “Try to at least remember how to get ready before you get all fanboyish, okay?”

    “Okay!”

    “Get your notes all together ahead of time, cuz I am giving you this one session.”

    “They’ve been together since those swarmers showed up.”

    “Good. Remember, one hour. I want you here five minutes before they show up.”

    “Gotcha.”

    “Don’t piss off the girl wearing the helmet.”

    “She’s still wearing that? How come?”

    “She’s a hardliner, Prog. The only reason she’s here is becuase Rakim ordered her to come with him. Every single time somebody goes by, I sense her mind get all twitchy about Unclean and how she doesn’t want them touching her and getting their stain on her, her suit, or even her swarmer. So do not piss her off.”

    “Okay, okay!” came the startled reply. “Sheesh, I’ll be as nice as possible, okay?”

    About all I can expect from him. Thank GODS he’s so much better at this than Rey.

    “Well,” she went on, “I’m going to go get something to eat, then I’ll be in the conference room, so”—

    The conference room door opened, admitting Progie. He carried his handcom and a mid-sized plastic container. The savory smell of stir-fry from the Qwaar-Jet’s newly opened Morale Sector wafted into the air as he walked in and set the container on the table.

    “I was on my way up to bring lunch anyways,” he sheepishly admitted, motioning to the container.

    “Damn, the stir-fry guy got all set up already?” she asked in amazement. “I gave the okay for shops to move in before we left with the convoy, and that was only two days ago!”

    Progie chuckled.

    “Time wasted is money lost, or so Risco says. You wouldn’t believe it, but he’s got his shop set up already too,” he explained.

    Noreena shook her head as she grinned ruefully.

    What’d they do, jump over here with Mini-Cores after I gave the all-clear?!

    She’d concocted the idea with Saeri a month ago upon realizing how long the Qwaar-Jet’s large crew went between trips to the Kuun-Lan’s Morale Sector or the Vaygr Super-Battlecruiser’s Morale Area. A week ago, Tydaar had finally found a suitably large cargo bay for the job. It lay far enough inside the Qwaar-Jet that battles would do little more than slightly rattle its occupants, and not be a nuisance for crews to bypass on the way to and from their stations when the General Quarters alarms went off.

    Now it was obvious the Qwaar-Jet’s Morale Sector would be fully up and running when it returned to the Alliance Fleet’s main staging area, which resided in a binary star system of two blue giants. After learning of the loss of Somtaaw’s Second and Third Fleets at Mortann, the New Daiamid had unanimously voted to dispatch the other kiith fleets to bolster the Alliance’s numbers. These days, the bulk of the seven Kiith Fleets as well as the Vaygr Crusades' battle fleets resided at that staging area. Almost all the Fleets had personnel who flocked to see the God of War in person. This tallied up to one impressive influx of newcomers when word of its Morale Sector got around.

    She hoped the merchants were ready for it.

    Shrugging off her train of thoughts, Noreena grinned as she plopped into the chair closest to the container. Progie took the seat across from her, and opened it. He lifted out several take-out boxes full of food, then set them down between himself and his Captain. They gleefully dug in with their chopsticks, pausing often to discuss details of the scientist’s coming talks with the Kadeshi.

    Fifty minutes later saw both of them polishing off some crunchy krenza-nut cookies whie eyeing the carnage of empty takeout boxes and stained napkins that littered the table. Progie glanced to the wall chrono, then winced.

    “Ten minutes,” he muttered. “We gotta clean up here.”

    Noreena nodded, then quickly snatched up, then crammed the trash into the largest container. The scientist grabbed it and scurried to the trash receptacle. He tossed it through the receptacle’s wall hatch, then slammed it shut. The machine emitted a two-second-long foomp sound from its miniatured phased-dissassembly array, then went silent again.

    “Table needs wiped,” Noreena commented as she looked about for something to do that with. “I’m not about to remind them about the entire Unclean thing if I can help it.”

    Progie dug into the pockets of his smock, then produced a clean white rag.

    “I always keep 'em around in case someone wants to inspect something without telling me ahead of time,” he remarked with a lopsided grin.

    Noreena nodded with a grin, then wiped down the entire table. She refused to take chances, even if the Kadeshi considered her the most holy person alive. Progie did his best to readjust the chairs to their proper positions, then stood by the foot of the table to inspect their handiwork.

    “Looks clean enough to me,” he remarked.

    “Same,” Noreena said with a nod, then checked the time.

    She needn’t have bothered. The conference room’s doors opened to admit Rakim and his two guards just as the chrono ticked over to 1300 hours.

    Progie perked instantly, and glanced between the Ambassador and Noreena for his cue to speak up. Noreena nodded, then turned to Rakim.

    “Ambassador Rakim, this is Doctor Reyan Somtaaw, my science officer, and the Alliance’s top technology specialist. He’d like to talk with you about your technological...accomplishments.”

    “Greetings Doctor,” Rakim replied smoothly, then to, everyone’s surprise, held out his hand.

    Kai even quirked an eyebrow at that guesture. Nika startled abruptly, and took a brief step towards Rakim before getting ahold of herself. Shock and disbelief exploded from her mind at such a breach in Protector etiquette.

    No Unclean shall touch the exposed flesh of the Garden’s blessed...WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING?!

    Noreena flinched slightly at that mental explosion, and shot the helmeted Kadeshi an annoyed glare at such vehemence. Nika flinched under her emerald gaze, then froze as she realized the depth to which she had lost her self-control.

    With a sigh, Noreena turned her attention back to the Ambassador. He’d raised his eyebrows in puzzlement at all the reactions going about.

    “Is it not customary to...shake hands?” he inquired mildly. “I missed the hint when I was speaking with your Chief of Intelligence, but I understand it now. We have similar customs among our people.”

    “Uhmm, yes,” Progie replied nervously. “I thought you wouldn’t want to because of the whole Unclean thing.”

    You DARE mock our ways, Unclean? Nika mentally grumbled as she shifted uneasily on her feet.

    Noreena fought down the urge to shoot her another glare. Considering her reaction to the last one, it would only make things worse.

    Rakim nodded his understanding.

    “Customarily, no,” he explained without missing a beat. “However, if we are to work with your people, then it benefits us to learn your customs.”

    “Oh, okay,” Progie said sheepishly. “I was thinking the same thing, actually. Didn’t want to get you angry with a misunderstanding or anything.”

    “Thank you, Doctor,” Rakim replied kindly, his respect for Progie rising several notches.

    Meanwhile, the exact opposite had happened with Nika. She now eyed the scientist as if he were a particularly repulsive creature who’d just crawled out from under a rock.

    “Well,” Noreena spoke up. “How about we get started?”

    “Oh, right,” the scientist blurted out as he pulled out his datapad and turned it on.


    Chapter 7

    “So, basically a reroute of power from everything except life support to the ion cannons?” Progie asked, shock spelled across his features. “Um...wow.”

    Heh, translates more or less to “emergency power allocation,” Noreena thought with a smirk. DAMN! That was his guess for how they did it! Looks like he's gonna write another groundbreaker for the science mags again.

    Rakim and Kai nodded. They had relaxed a little during the discussion, and seemed to be thoroughly enjoying Progie’s more casual and direct way of conversing. Nika, on the other hand, remained as stony as always.

    “The art is in how the reroutes are achieved,” Rakim explained calmly. “Nothing exotic, and most certainly nothing an engineer would consider extreme. It is simply the consideration of all resources at hand, and the most efficient means of directing them to any area that needs it most.”

    Progie grinned as if he’d made the find of a lifetime.

    “I can’t tell you how honored I am to hear this,” he said, the grin widening. “Thank you.”

    His sincere charm had rubbed off a little on Rakim, for the Ambassador smiled slightly at his words. Even Kai seemed to have taken a liking to the scientist, for his eyes had an approving gleam in them.

    “Now, I’d imagine your power relays are pretty sturdy to handle that much shifting that often?”

    “Of course,” Rakim replied with a nod.

    “Well...since we may need to backengineer variants of that configuration...if I remember right from the earlier talk about building materials, you’ve been using something like Progenitor armor metal to shield the superconductor cables to reduce shorts and outages?”

    “Correct. The metal of the Ancients was the best for the job. So we had to recreate it.”

    “How close to the actual metal are we talking here?”

    “In comparison to the few pieces of Ancient technology Ashoran's forces have allowed us to use,” Rakim explained, “it is an almost exact replica.”

    Progie blinked in awe.

    “Well, we haven’t had much luck coming up with said exact replica out here. I’ve got the Qwaar-Jet as a reference, but actually getting the chemical formula for the armor material is obviously out of the question since it’s impossible to take a sample. Not that I’d want to anyways, considering the fact that we’ve got a war on. I'm an engineer, not a chemist. I also haven’t had much luck with the databanks either. The best I’ve been able to do is use whatever formulae the Hiigaran Navy’s people got off the Sajuuk’s databanks before it was stolen. Well, whatever the Sajuuk’s faction uses for chemical formulae have been, by and far, the hardest thing for the translators to work out.”

    He sighed, then shrugged.

    “All of my passes from trying to work out those formulae end up being wrong, no matter how close I get. Usually the flaws I find are down to the molecular level when I find out, and makes the metal pretty much useless in a fight. I've run all this past the Hiigaran metallurgists and chemists, but they're all stumped too. So my question is this...is there a way we can translate your formulae for your recreation of this metal for the Alliance?"

    Rakim perked at this, then nodded.

    “I spent many years as an Engineer before rising to higher rank,” he said calmly. “I can tell you the replication formulae by rote. We rarely replace the cabling, but there are times when we must. Knowing how to do so was crucial."

    “Oh, great,” Progie said with another of his broad smiles. “So um, what do you need?”

    “A writing implement, and something to write on.”

    “Oh,. All right.”

    He tapped a command into his datapad, which caused it to clear its screen. Then he pried a rarely-used stylus out of the holder in its side. He set both down, and pushed them towards Rakim.

    “Umm, here. It works just like a pen and paper.”

    Rakim picked them up and eyed them thoughtfully, then began to write. Progie remained where he stood; he had no intention of disturbing the Ambassador while he worked.

    Nika eyed the scientist’s devices with growing alarm, shifting in her seat for a better view of the proceedings. The young Kadeshi then leaned slightly to get a better view of the Ambassador’s writing. Her metallic faceplate threw a reddened reflection of the room’s brilliant overhead lighting into Rakim's left eye.

    He blinked in surprise, his hand still in the middle of making a notation on the bottom of the screen. Then he froze, his eyes swiftly tracing the red streak of reflected light to its source. One slender white eyebrow rose on his forehead as he quietly regarded his young guard.

    “Protector,” he said in a mild voice that gained everyone’s undivided attention, “there comes a time when one must sacrifice tradition for the greater good. Please remove your helmet.”

    Nika reached up, then lifted it from her head in a single smooth movement. She set it on the table in front of her with a faint clunk. She stared intently at Rakim, silently asking Must I? with her surly expression.

    Satisfied by Nika’s response, Rakim returned to his writing. He quickly finished his notation, then tucked the stylus back into the datapad’s holder. He then slid the device back across the table for the scientist to reclaim, only to find him frozen as he gaped at Nika’s striking face.

    Progie’s reaction wasn’t lost on the Kadeshi woman. She pinned him with a particularly smoldering glare, as if attempting to force him to look away by the sheer force of her will.

    Look away, you Unclean fool, she thought acidly.

    He blinked at the intensity of her gaze, then smiled sheepishly. His face promptly turned pink as his smile turned into a nervous grin.

    “Um...you’re cute....well, er....I like freckles,” he said faintly in a feeble attempt to explain himself.

    He spoke so shyly that Noreena had to stifle a rising chuckle. Kai blinked at him, then fought down a smile that threatened to destroy his serious demeanor.

    Nika eyed the scientist’s cryptic reaction in puzzlement. Then it dawned on her with all the force of an impacting Siege Cannon shot. He eyes went wide with horror.

    WHAT?! The Unclean...fancies...me?! No...NO! THIS CANNOT BE!

    She bolted to her feet, her face growing whiter with every passing second as her revulsion mounted. Then anger overtook her; her eyes narrowed at Progie as she pinned him with a furious glare. Kai blinked in shock at her reaction while the Ambassador remained utterly unfazed.

    “Permission to retreat to our quarters?” she asked Rakim through gritted teeth.

    “Denied,” he smoothly replied, then picked up the datapad and held it up to Progie to get his attention.

    “Doctor, please continue,” he said in the same calm voice, as if Nika hadn’t just lost her temper. The young man sputtered a moment, then shook his head to clear it. Then he reclaimed the datapad from Rakim.

    The Kadeshi woman blinked in shock, then sank slowly into her chair with her hands balled into quivering fists. She had the air of a hunter animal about to pounce on its prey, and kept her glare pinned on the young scientist lest he do something else particularly offensive.

    Progie, now focused on his datapad, tapped its “Save” button with the reverence of a priest touching a holy artifact. He then very carefully tucked the device into its customary pocket, checking twice to make sure it was still there.

    Meanwhile, Kai stared at his sister as if she’d become a completely different person. She ignored him, preferring not to let Progie out of her sight.

    “Thank you, Ambassador,” the scientist finally replied. “For um, translation purposes, I take it your language is pretty close to Old Hiigaran?”

    “The language of our common ancestors? Yes, it should resemble that. However, four thousand years in the Garden, with no outside influences has probably altered it into a less recognizable form.”

    Progie nodded his understanding.

    “I’ll remember that when I tell the translators,” he said with a grateful smile. “Thank you, again.”

    “You’re most welcome, Doctor,” Rakim replied. “Was there anything else you wished to know about?”

    “Actually...yeah,” Progie replied. “You see, I’ve always wondered whether you’ve found any ways around your strikecraft fuel-burn problem?”

    “No, we have not. Have you any thoughts on the matter?”
    Last edited by Chrome; 18th Mar 09 at 10:18 PM.

  28. #28
    I smell the Acolyte Fighter Drive may be coming into play.

    Love the Kadeshi scenes, you've really captured their essence in a way that is both original and believable. Generally people cast the Kadeshi as mindless zealots but I think you've got them down in a more interesting light, that of a society that is very zealous and religious but that is not driven mad by that zeal. The way you portray them indicates that while religion is an inseperable part of their lives and while they do have a nasty case of xenophobia they are not completely unwilling to change their ways or listen to reason.

    Nor do they seem to be slaves to their religion, it is simply the way they live their lives. Rakim in particular is growing on me and I like how he appears deeply devoted to his faith but has the wisdom to know that their are other ways of looking at things, even if he does not agree with them.

    I don't think much of Kai. He simply seems like an extra character thrown in there with little to do but sit there and act as Rakim's apprentice, although I'm sure that will chance. I am waiting to see however how Nikia turns out. I'm sure there must be some bit of non-"Unclean most die!" inside of her so I'm waiting to see how you reveal this. I sense both she and Rakim are to become major characters.

    I have also often connected Qwaar-Jet with Kadesh in my eyes, glad to see someone else who agrees.

    Nice job at tying in the other kiithid . You said seven kiithid so I'm thinking Nabaal, S'jet, Manaan, Paktu, LiirHra, Kaalel, and Sobani right? One thing you might want to keep in mind though is that even with all these kiithid plus the Somtaaw the Hiigarans are horribly outnumbered (~14 million vs. a galactic menace). With that in mind I have a feeling that while the Hiigarans will be doing a fair share of the fighting that the Vaygr may be, along with any other allies, doing the bulk of the work.

    On the other hand the Hiigarans do have the best technology and weaponry so that may balance things out a bit.

    Don't want to be a hassle, I know this is a lot to consider. I'm just speaking my mind. Regardless of what you do I'm sure this will continue to be a fantastic story.

  29. The Studio Senior Member Homeworld Senior Member  #29
    Not Making Lemonade Chrome's Avatar
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    Oh yes, them plus the Crusades AND the Somtaaw Navy? Hopelessly, especially if you throw the bulk of the Imperialists plus all his cultist guys at them. As you can guess, the Crusades are probably the largest element next to the kiith fleets. Thank you for pointing that detail out--I'll certainly keep that in mind.

    I think it could be said that Kadeshi society may only have the Protectors as one facet. If you'll recall the Minbari from B5 (who also had a tendency towards fanatical zeal if you rub them the wrong way) they had castes that do different jobs. I haven't exactly established that with the Kadeshi, but it could be said that the Protectors are their military and "warrior caste" if you want to think of them that way.

    Yeah Kai will become more interesting later. Right now the two majors are Nika and Rakim, but he'll come into play soon too.

  30. #30
    :clap: Booyah tusi tech on swarmer= death ships on a stick. :Pike: The kadeshis are the awsome Chrome. Rakim is almost vaygr like. And Niki has got a serious wall to hit her when eventually she realizes that they are the same people as hiigarans.

    Poor poor Qwaar jet Khar. Delegated form bitchslapping to boring paper work.

    Dang beuracracy.

    Also, are we facing an atma crisis with beast eye and super beast hell guy? just curious

  31. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by DeepChrome
    Oh yes, them plus the Crusades AND the Somtaaw Navy? Hopelessly, especially if you throw the bulk of the Imperialists plus all his cultist guys at them. As you can guess, the Crusades are probably the largest element next to the kiith fleets. Thank you for pointing that detail out--I'll certainly keep that in mind.
    Oh, no problem. But hey - aren't the good guys always hopelessly outnumbered ?

    Quote Originally Posted by DeepChrome
    I think it could be said that Kadeshi society may only have the Protectors as one facet. If you'll recall the Minbari from B5 (who also had a tendency towards fanatical zeal if you rub them the wrong way) they had castes that do different jobs. I haven't exactly established that with the Kadeshi, but it could be said that the Protectors are their military and "warrior caste" if you want to think of them that way.
    Ah... that would be an interesting idea and one I hadn't thought of. If that were the case than I'm guessing Rakim = religious caste and Nikia = warrior caste?

    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Elson
    And Niki has got a serious wall to hit her when eventually she realizes that they are the same people as hiigarans.
    Actually, I was under the impression she already knew. Being genetically related doesn't mean she has to like the Hiigarans. In fact, in general different sects of the same people are often more hateful towards one another than altogether different peoples. The most bloody religious wars have actually not been against other religions, but against members of the same religion but a different sect/church (take for example the Reformation and the countless wars spawned by it).

    My impression is that by now the Kadeshi know about the Kushan being the same people (after all, they refer to the Hiigarans as the Protectors of Hiigara, something they never called the Taiidan) but they believe that the Kushan's refusal to accept the "true faith" so to speak has made them Unclean anyhow. You could even say the Kushan committed the ultimate crime, that of arrogance and pride. "They would not wait for the command of Kadesh!" one might say. "They thought blindly to take back paradise without the blessings of the heavens. Blasphemy!"

  32. The Studio Senior Member Homeworld Senior Member  #32
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    Great ideas Ishaar, I'll be keeping those in mind.

    But yes, I would take Rakim and Kai as the religious/scholarly caste, and Nika as the warrior caste.

    Anyways, I would theorize that the higher ranks pretty much knew from what happened in HW1. The lower ranks didn't neccessarily have to know, or at the least they may be more blindly obedient to the will of Kadesh to the point that they consider Hiigarans outsiders anyways...and still Unclean.

  33. #33
    DC liked my ideas (does fanboy dance now)!



    Okay, I'm over it now .

  34. #34
    although Niki probably knows, it is not suffice to say that she believes that it is true, after all, Karan got absolutely NOWHERE with telling the Kadeshi that they were the same people. Fanaticism can make one blind to the truth.

  35. #35
    You're missing my point. They don't have to be blind to the truth or not believe it to still hate the Hiigarans. Fanaticism can also make one hate their own brother.

  36. The Studio Senior Member Homeworld Senior Member  #36
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    Yeah, the real fanatics are not the ones who are blind, but who believe whatever the hell THEY are going to believe in the face of the truth. The blind ones are more easily dealt with. It's the one who don't give two flying shits what everyone else's truth is, and will focus 100% on their own.

    You may notice that Rakim seems nowhere near as fanatical as Nika is. There's a reason for that, and you'll find that out later.

  37. #37
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    I hope that the kadeshi don't cement thier alliences and agrements with allies with a marriage like the royal family used to do in england (Imagines poor progie and Nika being forced to marry to finalize allience :omg: ) I doubt that even the QJ's armor would stand that finascio. (that thought just happen to pop into my mind when reading the exchange between Progie and Nika, and besides, why else might Rakim bring Nika alonge when she obvisily doesn't want to be there? :evilnod: )

  38. #38
    Man if Chrome hadn't said Rey and Progie were bors, i'd have been able to figure it out with That dialogue Zelot


    And you miss my point i was just merely remarking on how stupid zealozy is and how funny it is to watch pig headness. Dhe knows that they are related, but it seems as if she doen's accept and understand what it really means to be related by past lines.

    Then again as you put it the break in the Zealots and the normy Kushan probably made for a huge communication bridge to be cut. Probably desecndents from Kith Galiensi or
    Siidim.

  39. The Studio Senior Member Homeworld Senior Member  #39
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    Ah, I probably did then.

    Yeah, at first they weren't supposed to be brothers, the more I looked at them, the more I was "damn, they HAVE to be brothers!"...hehehehe.

  40. Boardwars Senior Member  #40
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    Goodness. I can scarcely imagine the result of combining Kadeshi swarmers with fuel-efficient Acolyte class fighter drives... O_O

    The bit where Nika realises that Progie fancies her is easily the best bit in the chapter. The "THIS CANNOT BE!" on her part has a somewhat mighty Bentusi feel to it.

    Meanwhile, I like how you set up the glaring differences between Rakim and Nika. Somehow, I was able to draw parallels between them and Beryl and Fire-blade from Outsider to an extent - one is the reasonable one, and the other tolerates no nonsense.

    Keep it up.

  41. #41
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    The posts that didn't have anything to do with the fic anyore have been moved to the HW discussion forums.
    Please do not derail the thread again. If you take it too far off topic again, I will continue to move or delete posts, but with warnings attached.
    Last edited by Riess; 28th Sep 06 at 10:08 PM.

  42. #42
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    Atma makes a goodpoint kadeshi swarmmers with acolyte drives would be a scary thing. I found it funny though when Nika found out about progie liking her. And btw, that is very Bentusi-ish, Bentusi's first encounter with the beast to be exact.

  43. #43
    Loving number so far. Kadeshi are awsome so far. I kinda wounder what other ships they got in thier little fleet that didn't make an appearence. A friggin battlecruiser with like 12 Ion beams or something. I also wounder what kind of personal weapons they got for corrdor action.


  44. #44
    In Hibernation EarthBorn's Avatar
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    Excellently Presented. It will be interesting to see the Kadeshi Ion cannons mounted on the Alliance Ships.

  45. #45
    Member Angelofthenight's Avatar
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    hell this is good i expected yet another plot twist but the kadeshi!!!!!
    wow
    i have turned legacies one into a truly massive 211 page pdf file lol
    Last edited by Angelofthenight; 1st Oct 06 at 2:09 PM.

  46. The Studio Senior Member Homeworld Senior Member  #46
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    Weee. UPDATE.

    I'll be going back to the 2-chapter updates as I usually do. This'll give me a little more room to peck away more chapters without immediately dumping the contents of Everything Thus Far into here.

    *******

    Chapter 8

    Noreena collapsed into her office’s chair with a gusty sigh, then leaned forwards while she propped her arms’ elbows against her desk. With her hands, she pried her beret off. Then she slowly massaged her aching head.

    The desk’s com bleeped.

    Arrgh not NOW! Probably some brass hotshot wanting a round with the ‘deshi. Meh. Might as well get it over with...

    “Put ‘em through, Qwaar,” she groused.

    Makaan’s head and shoulders appeared above her desk in holographic form. He wore his long hair in its customary ponytail, and his blue eyes shone as intensely as ever. His eyebrows shot up upon seeing his girlfriend slumped over the desk, rubbing her head with her hands while completely oblivious to who’d called.

    He smiled mischeviously as he leaned towards the pickup.

    “Perhaps I should’ve called you while wearing a latex tank top,” he said in a suggestive tone.

    That spectacular voice of his added an extra layer of sensuality to his words, causing Noreena to turn a becoming shade of pink. Now that the Warlord was part of her inner circle, and she a part of his, she often asked him to call and just talk - however gibberish the words might be - so she could let his elegant voice calm her jangled nerves.

    “Hi, hon,” she replied with a tired smile. “I might actually request that if things keep up.”

    The Warlord quirked a momentary grin as he chuckled. Then he sobered.

    “The Kadeshi?” he asked, quickly comprehending what had worn her down so easily.

    She nodded as if she had weights strapped to her forehead.

    “I see,” the Warlord mused as he eyed her thoughtfully. “Karan said something about their seeing you as the holiest person alive.”

    She nodded again, even more wearily than last time. He winced delicately despite his tremendous self-restraint.

    “Back in the old days, I’d have killed to get that kind of adoration," he rumbled, "but now, it all seems so ridiculously blind.”

    “It is,” she said tiredly. “At least the Ambassador’s sharp enough to not act that way around me, but the others still do.”

    “Doesn’t surprise me. How are they taking the interviews?” he inquired.

    “Well enough. Ambassador and his apprentice are just loving it. The girl...well, let’s just say she hates Progie’s guts right now. He made the mistake of getting a crush on her, and well...behaving pretty obviously about it too. I think we’ll be seeing a conference room incident from those two before long."

    Makaan quirked one eyebrow, then grinned lopsidedly.

    "Seeing as how ours turned out, they might just get lucky, dear," he remarked.

    "The way she acted makes your reaction to my overhearing you sound tame in comparison," she pointed out.

    The Warlord cringed sympathetically.

    “Charming,” he remarked dryly, switching back to spoken speech. “I hope Progie comes out the better for it.”

    “You and me both,” Noreena replied with an eyeroll. “He’s gone on her. Totally. I saw him making a little model swarmer in his lab when I last checked in.”

    Both paused, then burst into laughter.

    “So,” she said once she’d calmed down, “how’s everything going back there?”

    “Just lovely,” he replied with a bitter sigh. “An old friend of Talia’s returned from exile yesterday.”

    “Hm exile...wait. Zalnitz?!”

    Makaan nodded grimly.

    “He had some friends high enough in the Crusades to rescue him from that slow shuttle. They hid him onboard their most loyal ship for the last four months. They’re hardliners. Hiigaran-haters. They’ve just now gathered in a close enough cadre to keep my forces from attempting anything to get him back into exile. If I or my intelligence people had known sooner, we could’ve done something. Now we can’t.”

    He paused a moment, his scowl getting darker by the second.

    “He came out publicly yesterday in an attempt to rally more of my people to his cause. Not very many are listening to him, but there are those who still believe I should not be Warlord, even after Mortann. The fact that I couldn’t keep him in exile is rather damning in their eyes.”

    “Well, that’s not good. What’s his...cause?"

    ...and I bet I’ll regret finding out.

    The Warlord nodded at the uneasy look on her face.

    “He’s adamant that the Vaygr should’ve stayed with Ashoran.”

    Noreena scowled as she muttered a savage Vaygr curse.

    “Indeed. Fortunately the total sum of people actually listening to him is barely enough to fill a task force. Unfortunately, they’re scattered evenly enough to cause trouble if they decide to break away and rejoin Ashoran’s forces.”

    “Think they can be dealt with?”

    “They’ll have to be,” Makaan sighed. “I can’t have them attacking the Alliance at some inconvenient time. The consensus among my Admirals and advisors is to induce them to make their move at a time of our choosing, and then take them out.”

    Noreena nodded. That sounded like a good choice of action. Battles always went better for a side if they controlled its circumstances, events, and ultimate outcome.

    “When you gonna do this, then?” she asked.

    The Warlord sighed.

    "Is this a secure channel?" he asked. She nodded. He quickly launched into his plan.

    "I’d like you and the Qwaar-Jet on hand when we do this. The troublemakers might be less inclined to try anything particularly daring if you two are around. And if they do, you’d have plenty on hand to stop them with. At this point, we're setting this to happen shortly after the Qwaar-Jet returns to the staging area."

    She nodded, finding the upcoming job much more appealing than her current one.

    Finally, I get to be a bitchslapper rather than a patrol grunt. It’s about fucking time.

    But...I guess we’ll have to wait till when I get back, then,
    she conceded, wishing she were already dealing with these errant Vaygr than babysitting a bunch of merchies.

    Makaan smiled knowingly. He had become quite adept at reading the expressions that fleetingly flashed across her face at these times.

    “I miss you,” he said softly. “It’ll be good to get together again. You’ve only got another day before dropping the convoy off.”

    She sighed as she nodded.

    “Yeah. And it will be.”

    “Can’t wait,” the Warlord replied with a troubled smile.

    Noreena badly wanted to hug him. He seemed so tired all of a sudden.

    They hadn’t seen each other in person very often since the Battle of Mortann. Despite its rousing victory four months ago, the Alliance had remained on high guard. This forced every available ship—the Qwaar-Jet included—to take up any number of patrol and protection jobs. This lull, beneficial as it was, could not be trusted to adhere to any of the Alliance’s ideal scenarios. The last break certainly hadn’t.

    Immediately after their sound defeat in Mortann, Ashoran’s forces had practically vanished from galactic affairs. The Bentusi had reported obscure worlds such as Nalthor and Frerrn coming under frequent attack before the Qwaar-Jet’s recovery; now not a single sign of enemy movement was seen in any sector of the galaxy.

    Everyone in the Alliance knew that the cult and their leader hadn’t given up. It was only a matter of time before his people picked him up from the lonely place outside the Galactic Rim where the Qwaar-Jet had deposited him. Then they would make a comeback - one that everyone knew would be particularly brutal if they had to retract from their campaign this thoroughly in order to build up for their return.

    As a result, the entire Alliance had spent the last four months researching new technologies, designing new ships, and building them. Every single shipyard the Hiigarans, Vaygr, and Bentusi possessed were operating at peak capacity in both the research and construction areas of their capabilities.

    Now that the Imperialists had resurfaced, Ashoran and his cultists could not be far behind. Noreena sighed glumly, wondering what dastardly manipulation they would use on the Alliance now to throw their ranks into disarray.

    Then a realization dawned on her, turning her stomach into a pit of heavy metal threatening to fall through several decks.

    Wait...the timing on Zally’s comeback, and the Imperials...AHH FUCKFUCKFUCK..! I was getting USED to things being what they were again, dammit!

    The Warlord blinked in alarm at the sudden furious scowl on Noreena’s face.

    “You think Zalnitz’s reappearance is related to Ashoran’s comeback?” he asked worriedly.

    She nodded.

    "It’s way too convenient, especially with that Imperialist move on the convoy out here. It was a good thing I was out here, because they’d have had their asses kicked a few times over without the Qwaar-Jet Keepers around."

    The Warlord nodded grimly.

    “I hadn’t thought of it that way, but you make a very good point. Your Chief of Intelligence was starting to think the same. Now we have all the more reason to deal with Zalnitz and his cohorts before they do anything. Becuase if this is the leading edge of a comeback...”

    “...then the War’s back on, and I’m not taking chances on them doing anything less than pumping some helpless planet full of ADWs or some other shit.”

    “I’ve got to pass the word on,” Makaan grumbled, his expression now taut with carefully controlled alarm. “I’ll keep you updated. Stay safe, love.”

    “You too,” Noreena replied.


    Chapter 9

    Noreena perused the Kendaar system one last time with the Qwaar-Jet’s sensors. Nothing appeared out of the ordinary—from the lonely swamp planet below the Progenitor super-dreadnaught, to the hordes of merchant ships hovering around its large supply depot. The merchants’ escorts would join the depot’s defense forces, which before their arrival had consisted of five Vaygr heavy missile frigates, and one Hiigaran destroyer. Now, with a hefty dose of fresh man- and firepower, the depot would have much better protection when war returned to the galaxy.

    She transmitted a formal farewell to the depot’s commander via text transmission, then triggered the Qwaar-Jet’s three Cores. She quickly ordered them to the peak of their hyperspace power—which would shave another two hours off the transit back to the staging area. A massive purple window swallowed the God of War, returning it to the swirling realm of hyperspace.

    Finally, Noreena thought with relief. Ten hours and I get to go bitchslapping again. And if I get REALLY lucky, Mak and I can curl up together for a bit before Ash drops in to say hi with a couple of Infected TMAT or something. Hope Mak’s got the plan worked out by the time I get there.

    She relaxed, and delved into the torrent of input from the Qwaar-Jet’s internal feeds. She liked to watch her crew going about their busniess from her Unbound vantage point, and usually had a good laugh or two when she later commented on things she’d witnessed. People tended to forget she had eyes and ears all over the ship when in Unbound mode, and they could be counted on to have a comical reaction whenever she started joking about their mishaps.

    Then the Qwaar-Jet shot her a particularly notable feed: an image of Progie wandering haplessly along the same loop of corridors, led by the Progenitor super-dreadnaught’s hints via flashing lights or consoles. It was obvious the ship had decided to play a prank on him, for he had no clue he’d been walking the same length of hallway for the last forty-five minutes. She checked back into the feeds’ records, and found he’d been unknowingly sent to the wrong residential deck by a malfunctioning elevator—which Noreena suspected hadn’t really malfunctioned—and had sheepishly requested directions to his quarters.

    Noreena snickered. This was one facet of the Godship’s personality she liked. Karan hadn’t said a thing about the Sajuuk having a sense of humor.

    Oh c’mon, let the boy go...he’s gonna have a heart attack when he finds out...good thing you sent him to the residential levels to start with.

    Then the flashing changed direction, leading Progie down a hallway full of mostly unoccupied bunkrooms. Noreena quirked an eyebrow. Apparently Qwaar wasn’t done with him yet. Then the lights went to normal, and a pair of doors to one bunkroom opened. He eagerly walked towards the doors, and then into the room.

    She jumped to the camera-feed from that bunkroom, and gaped in shock.

    Pieces of Kadeshi body armor lay stacked in careful piles next to the bunks. Flight helmets sat carefully positioned atop the piles, staring blankly into the room’s center. One black jumpsuit lay tildily folded atop one bunk’s pillow.

    Progie froze several paces into the room, then gulped with fear. Doubtless the Kadeshi would have issues with an outsider coming into their quarters.

    Noreena swore as she frantically scanned for the location of her three guests. She found Kai and Rakim chatting away with Revkiir as they walked through one of the secondary hangars containing Qwaar-Jet Keepers. Noreena had talked them into accepting a shipwide tour from her XO two hours ago, and now they seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves, except for—

    Wait. Where’s Nika?

    She gulped. This had taken on all the overtones of a disaster in the making. She racked her memory and sensor scans for Nika’s location. Surely one Kadeshi wasn’t that hard to remember going about the Qwaar-Jet’s halls. But Nika was nowhere to be found.

    Oh, wait. Now I remember. She got permission to stay in the bunkroom after “that ordeal with the Unclean fool STARING at me.” Wait, that means...SHIT! I don’t see her! Where IS she?! Oh, wait, the water’s running—oh, just stopped. AHH FUCK. She's in the shower! PROGIE GET YOUR ASS OUTTA THERE!!

    Noreena shouted a warning to the scientist, hoping he would run out before Nika came out of the shower. Then she sputtered in befuddlement. Not a single word of her warning had come through the bunkroom’s com speakers. She checked for input going into them only to find that someone—or rather something—had locked out all com signals going into the bunkroom.

    QWAAAAAAAAAAAAR! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?!

    Lights flashed crazily in several unoccupied areas of the Qwaar-Jet in response, but the Godship didn’t open the com channel to the bunkroom. Then it dawned on Noreena. The Qwaar-Jet had intended to lead Progie to this room the entire time. Now that he was here, the Godship had no intention of letting its Khar to ruin the fun.

    Noreena cursed furiously at the ship for a few seconds, then went back to the room’s feed to make sure the scientist had departed.

    He hadn’t. He’d taken his time in realizing that none of the Kadeshi were in the main area, and had just now turned to leave the room. He looked as if he would also rant at the Qwaar-Jet once he got out of his predicament.

    At that moment, Nika stepped out of the bathroom door—which lay only a few steps away from Progie’s current position—wearing a large blue towel wrapped around her body. Her wet hair hung in disarray around her head, and water droplets glinted in the light as they clung to her face and skin.

    She didn’t see the scientist as she crossed towards her bunk. Progie certainly didn’t see her, for his eyes were focused on the doors and his immediate escape.

    Then Nika’s shoulder met Progie’s left arm. She staggered back slightly from the impact while the scientist wobbled briefly, his balance thrown off just enough to cause him to focus on his footing for a moment.

    As the Kadeshi quickly regained her balance, Progie looked up to see what had collided with him. She also cast her gaze about, also seeking the cause of that impact.

    Then she spotted Progie. Both froze.

    Nika's eyes located the patch of wetness on Progie’s smock sleeve. Then she realized what had made contact with her shoulder. Her eyes went wide with horror as her face turned a most spectacular shade of white.

    “Y-you touched me,” she whispered.

    “Wha— I’m sorry!” Progie blurted out as his eyes took in her slender figure. The towel, despite protecting her modesty, left very little to imagine.

    “You touched me!” the Kadeshi repeated, her voice rising as she reflexively backed into the nearest bunk.

    “Look, I didn’t mean to! I got lost and”—

    You touched me!” Nika now screamed, her horror promptly turning into fury.

    Then her foot bumped into a shin guard from the pile of armor closest to her. She shifted her wild-eyed gaze down to it, then scooped the piece of white armor up in one hand.

    “Get out!” she yelled furiously as she hurled it at him.

    Progie, sensing danger, scurried for the door. He wasn’t quite fast enough, for the shin-guard promptly banged against his left eye.

    He let out a yelp of pain as he clapped a hand over his face, then resumed his dash for the doorway. He wasn’t quite fast enough; another shin guard and an arm guard crashed into him thanks to Nika’s unerring aim. He stumbled widlly, then crashed into a flailing heap on the deck.

    This little victory didn’t dissuade Nika in the least. She scooped up a suit helmet, and flung it at the hapless scientist.

    Get out!” she repeated, her voice rising to a screech of fury.

    He scrambled back onto his feet as Nika continued to hurl pieces of Kadeshi armor at him. Then he made a mad dash for the doorway. The second the automated doors provided enough room for him to squeeze through, he promptly scrambled out into the hallway.

    “I said I was sorry!” he screamed.

    Then Nika followed him outside and hurled another arm guard at him. It smacked into his back, then bounced off into the air, hitting the floor behind him with a loud clatter.

    “GET OUT!” she howled at his back, her face red with rage.

    He turned to look behind him to see whether or not she would pursue him, then decided it wasn’t worth getting his other eye thrown at. He resumed his frantic sprint and didn’t stop until he was safely inside an elevator.

    Noreena promptly overrode Qwaar’s control of it, and redirected it to Sickbay. She refused to take any chances on the Godship trying anything else on him today. He slumped against the wall and slid down it with a sad sigh.

    “She hates me now,” he sighed miserably. “She hates me, Qwaar, and it’s all your damn fault.”

    Noreena couldn’t think of a good answer to that, for it was very true.
    Last edited by Chrome; 18th Mar 09 at 10:40 PM.

  47. #47
    Ah, poor proggie, maybe Noreena should have a little talk with Qwaar about mixing matchmaking, humour, and whatever an AI's equivalent of Pure Courage is.

    Not the Librarian, surely. He Of The Long Build Time.
    Priceless Relics of this Oasis
    This user has exceeded his monthly posting limit.

  48. #48
    Ah, poor Progie. I sympathize. Bad as my luck is with girls nothing could possibly have been worse than that.

    Great writing, as usual. Not much for me to comment on other than I think it's interesting to see the Qwaar-Jet's personality is strong enough to actually disobey Noreena. That may have some implications in the future.

  49. #49
    ROFLMAO.

    That was funny, sad but funny. I feel soory for progie, but I love the ship's humor. I like how you are making the ship in to a character.

  50. #50
    omega
    Guest
    Qwaar is starting to remind me of that Stephen King book with the car mixed with the show blind date.........

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