I didn't find them quite up to your usual standard, Chrome - maybe I'm just not used to it. Still, a very enjoyable read, especially the Kadeshi "emotion ball".
I didn't find them quite up to your usual standard, Chrome - maybe I'm just not used to it. Still, a very enjoyable read, especially the Kadeshi "emotion ball".
Let's sail in this sea of charms
Let's drown underneath the stars
Chrome, love the new chapters, and per my previous post I've been dying to see how this would all work out. I'll take this as an early birthday present (it the 29th of this month to be exact) and it is graciously accepted in the manner it was given. Love the chapters, love the work, love more of them so keep it coming! :-*
Oh, John, No, they're probably not up to par because they're not action or tension-inducing, but rather resolution chapters. Not everything has to have fireballs, explosions, tension, and people having hurt feelings. And if you can't enjoy a good resolution to a long-running issue of tension, then what can you enjoy in a story's quieter bits?
Hiroshi, I'm gonna assume that your "if" scenario implies you having a sex change before Progie turned up with said swarmer of awesome..............right?
Gotta say, there's not much I wouldn't do for a chance to take that thing out for a spin, either.
I'm stunned beyond belief!! I am Glad to see some new chapters out! Ashoran better watch out when the Deshi get those new swarmers, Or should i say Kunai! Is progie going to Redesign the Needleships?
Heh, you're probably right, Chrome. I've been reading too much Dan Abnett.
Anyway, here's hoping for more fireballs and explosions in the chapters that are supposed to have fireballs and explosions.
I liked the last a few chapters. there is much to learn from you
Some random editing advice: never start a P with "Then...."
Good flow otherwise.
Hoping CoH2 Ships With Worldbuilder....
I liked to see Rey and Nika FINALLY making up, as the happy 'nice' parts are just as good as the Dakka-Dakka-Blow-Shit-Up parts if you ask me. Yeah, I'm a male, but still... >_> <_<
Plus, not having two very interesting characters griping at each other will make the story flow a lot more quickly...
Always so nice to drop by and find there's been more added to the story... Not to mention added so well! Thanks for the entertainment Chrome!
Fully working decompiled HW2 Data Folder: http://www.moddb.com/games/homeworld...older/#2000826
HW2 Stories: http://forums.relicnews.com/showthread.php?t=184943
There are more updates on the horizon. I'm working on making a reasonably sized buffer of chapters before I dive back in again so there's some more flow to the updating schedule.
La de da... I got pretty far on my buffer today, so here's a nice lil update. Lots of nods to the earlier Parts in here.
Noreena sighed inwardly as she made her way to the Kadeshi’s bunkroom.
This is getting to be a regular habit. First the boarding fight, and now the Cruiser’s mini-riot. How many more thank yous am I gonna give Rakim before this is all over?
She had worked most of her way through a piece of dark chocolate fudge peppered with chunks of crystallized ginger – a new flavor Barkeep had started sending out to the Allied fleet last week. It had proven so addictive she’d eaten two pieces before finally asking for the third and beating a hasty retreat from the Drunken Cruiser. She didn’t want to wind up accidentally devouring the remainder of Saeri’s supply.
When the bunkroom’s doors came into sight, Noreena quickly finished off the fudge. She crammed the napkin she’d been holding it with into a pocket, then quickly smoothed some wrinkles out of her uniform. She still preferred to be meticulous about her appearance whenever visiting the Ambassador, out of respect for the Kadeshi’s concept of cleanliness.
Just as she reached to press the buzzer next to the bunkroom entrance, a glint of crimson flashed from the corner of her left eye. Then Kai strode into view. He wore his ceremonial robes, and had left his gloves and helmet inside the bunkroom. Upon spotting the Qwaar-Jet Khar, he came to a halt, then smiled as he gave a slight bow.
“Greetings, Khar. I trust you’re faring well?”
“I am. Is the Ambassador available?”
“I’m sorry, Khar, but he is meditating. He will be available in” – he glanced at a nearby wall chrono, and shrugged subtly – “half an hour. I can give him a message for you, if you’d like?”
“I wanted to thank him for his help with stopping the fight at the Drunken Cruiser a few days ago. Things were pretty busy since then, and I haven’t had a chance to ask him about what happened.”
“Ah, of course. I’m sure he would answer any questions you might have.”
“Well, I’ll come back later then,” she began as she turned towards the elevator. Then she paused. Kai eyed her quizzically.
“Actually,” Noreena mused out loud, “maybe you could answer”—
A buxom Cleanser suddenly dropped from the ceiling, and promptly wrapped Kai in a tight hug from behind. One gloved hand affectionately ruffled his dark bronze hair.
“There you are!” Akari’s sultry voice exclaimed gleefully. “I was wondering where you’d gotten off to.”
Kai blinked in shock, then turned his head just enough to pin her faceplate with an irritated glare.
“That was uncalled for,” he hissed.
Akari promptly released him, but not before giving his hair one more affectionate rustle. She then removed her helmet, and held it against her side as she regarded Noreena with a odd mixture of boredom and curiosity, as if she preferred Kai’s reluctant company to the Qwaar-Jet Khar’s.
“As I was about to ask,” Noreena remarked dryly, “I was wondering if you knew how the Ambassador stopped an entire room full of people dead in their tracks? It’s got something to do with that mystery ball, right?”
Both Kadeshi flinched ever so delicately. Kai’s handsome features twisted uneasily into a pained cringe. It was the kind of look a Somtaaw would give to someone if they talked a little too casually about the sacred Star-Metal Scrolls. Noreena inwardly groaned, realizing she had made a diplomatic error. The sooner she apologized, the better.
“Sorry about that – I didn’t realize it was that important to you. What is it?”
“It’s called the Eye of Kadesh,” Kai explained as he collected himself. “One of the most sacred artifacts of the Garden. I had no idea it was even permitted to take the Eye into the Outside. It is understandable that you would not know about it, having spent your entire life outside the Garden.”
An irritated frown flashed across his features for only a moment. Then he continued.
“The Eye is usually kept in our holiest sanctuary onboard the Kadesh-Toba, our flagship. Only the Ambassador, the Purifier designated Speaker of the Garden, may carry it as they encourage those who would enter the Garden to join us, rather than needlessly cost the Protectors valuable lives in a fight. Scripture” – he flinched suddenly, then folded his arms – “states that it can induce loyalty to the Garden in even the most stubborn beings.”
He paused a beat with another flinch.
“Only those sworn to a cause more noble than the Protection of the Garden could resist such a lure. It is also told that the Eye can command people to do as its holder wishes. Some texts that suggest it can also detect whether a person is Unclean.”
“Well, we got a good example of that in the Cruiser,” Noreena remarked, awe coloring her voice. “I wonder why you and I weren’t affected, though?”
“As I said,” Kai pointed out, “it can command people to do as its holder wishes. The Ambassador clearly wished for us to keep our wits.”
“Makes sense to me,” Noreena said with a shrug as she pondered that eventful night. Then a word in Kai’s explanation caught her attention.
“Purifiers. What are they?” she inquired. “Even now, we don’t know very much about your civilization.”
Kai nodded as if grateful that Noreena had asked that question.
“They are the priests of our society, and the leaders of the Purifying caste, one of our three castes,” he began.
“These castes together handle the various workings of our civilizations – both the civilian and military aspects. The other two castes are the Cleansing caste, and Protecting caste. Each have their own internal government. They assign three of their members to the Order of the Garden, our ruling council. One who holds their highest rank of their caste, one hailing from the pure bloodlines of Protectors over the last fifteen generations, and one from, or descended from, those who joined from the Outside. This is done so that our views may remain balanced.”
The delicate pause in Kai’s last sentence told Noreena much of what had happened during the century after the Kushans’ passing through the Garden. The Kadeshi had forcibly reorganized what tatters remained of their society after the Exiles’ passage in a bid to prevent making again the mistakes that had cost them so dearly in lives and resources.
“I see,” Noreena said after a pause. She quickly filed this information for later reporting.
“Certainly worthwhile information for the Alliance to know.”
Kai nodded in agreement. She paused a moment as she mulled over the rest of his words.
“So I assume Ambassador Rakim is the Speaker of the Garden, if he’s brought the Eye with him?”
“Only the Speaker may hold the rank of Ambass” – Kai abruptly startled, then pinned Akari with a angry glare.
“Stop touching me!” he hissed.
The female Cleanser returned a wide-eyed look of pure innocence.
“I’m not doing anything.”
“Look,” Kai snapped, “do you want to tell her about this, or are you going to let me talk?”
“Fine, fine,” Akari sighed as she sidled away from Kai, her hands held out so he could see them. “You’re the better storyteller.”
She flashed him one of her wide, sexy grins. He rolled his eyes with a growling sigh, then turned his attention back to Noreena. She switched to blowing him an irritated raspberry, which he ignored.
“My best guess,” Kai resumed, “is that the severe danger facing the Garden forced the Order to consider the Eye to be useful in persuading the Alliance to aid our cause. You could see why, given its powers.”
“I can only imagine what would’ve happened if we hadn’t said yes to helping you in the first place,” she remarked solemnly.
“Indeed,” Kai remarked in the same tone.
Akari continued to make various comical faces at him. He steadfastly ignored each and every one of them. Noreena found it hard to do the same, and wondered at the depth of his willpower. She then shook herself.
“I believe,” Kai mused, “that the Ambassador would not have revealed the Eye so boldly if he were not prepared to answer any questions you might have about it,” Kai finally said. “I will let him know you are interested in finding out more, when you do see him.”
“I’ll definitely ask,” Noreena said gratefully. “Thank you. That does explain a lot already. I’ll come back later. It’s only fair to thank him face-to-face for using something so sacred to help us.”
“Of course, Khar. I will tell him to expect you later in the day, Khar.”
“That’s perfect. Good day, Kai.”
“Good day, Khar,” he replied smoothly, and bowed again.
Noreena turned, and headed back towards the elevator.
As she stood waiting for her ride back to the Bridge, she saw Akari flash Kai a particularly lascivious grin, batting her eyes all the while.
Kai suddenly whirled on the female Cleanser.
“What the Sharz was that, Akari?!” he exclaimed. “We’re been beyond that kind of nonsense for years! And don’t get your hopes up again, either. I’m already seeing someone. So knock it off already.”
Akari gaped at him.
“What? It’s that brunette who just entered urumi training, isn’t it? The one with the pretty green eyes. She seemed totally your type.”
“I’m not telling you.”
“C’mon, tell me!” Akari blurted out.
Noreena inwardly winced, wondering if Akari would have a particularly derogatory opinion of Talia. Maybe that was why Kai wanted to keep his new girlfriend’s identity a secret? It was obvious now that Akari was Kai’s ex-girlfriend. So much of the awkwardness between the two Cleansers made perfect sense now.
Kai pressed the open code into the bunkroom doors’ keypad. Akari skittered to stand very close to his side, eyeing him steadily.
“C’mon, tell me.” Akari insisted in a tone indicating that she was more than willing to bludgeon the information out of him with sheer verbal force.
“No,” he retorted as the doors opened with a clunk. He strode into the bunkroom, Akari so close behind him it was a wonder she didn’t step on his heels.
“Tell me,” she repeated.
Kai finally remembered to hit the close button, and whirled to hit it just as Akari opened her mouth.
Noreena chuckled to herself. That bit of humor went a long way to brighten her day, just like when she’d seen Nika begging Kai to show her his urumi.
The faint sound of sleepy talking drifted into Noreena’s ears. She cracked her eyes open amidst a haze of pain, then slightly lifted her beret from covering the upper half of her face. Blinking fuzzily against the auditorium’s bright lights, she scanned the mass of empty seats around her. Several groggy Somtaaw techs had walked in, and began hooking up their datapads to the screen controls set into the lectern. The wall behind them turned into a blur of monochromatic gray static, then glowed bright blue. The techs nodded to themselves, then went back to their work.
Grimacing at a fresh jolt of agony from her back, she replaced the beret over her eyes to block the screen’s glare, then dozed off again.
A finger lightly tapped her shoulder. She lifted the beret off her forehead to see Chief Intel eyeing her quizzically.
“How’d you know I was going to call a conference?” he asked in bewilderment.
“QWAAR,” Noreena muttered angrily in a voice so frighteningly similar to the Godship’s that she startled fully awake. Intel stepped back an entire pace in shock.
She shook her head violently.
“Sorry about that. I’ve been doing that whenever I wake up pissed these days,” she said wearily. “Probably another of Qwaar’s physical modifications to me that he didn’t tell me about. Anyways, as I was saying, it was Qwaar. He got me up by flipping the gravity and sending me into my wall sculpture again. Then he told me he’d been listening in on your earpiece – that you’d called for a major conference. So here I am, half an hour early. And now my back hurts like a Beast infection.”
She fixed a particularly venomous glare at the nearest wall camera. Intel chuckled weakly, as he nodded his acknowledgement. Then he scurried to the lectern, as if not particularly caring to be in the line of fire between the Khar and her Godship.
“Fuck you, Qwaar,” Noreena muttered irritably as another wave of pain rolled through her back and shoulders. “Just. Fuck you.”
She grimaced angrily as she made a mental note to go down to Sickbay when this meeting was over, and get some painkillers so her back didn’t scream at her for the rest of the day. Settling back into her napping position with more than a few complaints from her aching back, she repositioned the beret over her forehead. She was asleep in an instant.
Then a sharp jolt hit Noreena’s chair, which sent a similar wave of agony through her back, slammed her back into consciousness.
“QUIT IT!” she growled in that same Qwaar-like voice.
“Since when,” Progie’s voice squawked, “did you get Qwaar’s voice?!”
She opened her eyes, recalling dimly that she’d taken a seat right next to the aisle. Progie stood at the opposite side of that aisle from her, practically climbing over the seat behind him. She guessed that he must’ve been settling into the chair behind her, and bumped into her own chair by accident.
“Since that barfight,” Noreena sighed as she groaned inwardly. “It’s one modification I could do without. Except maybe for scaring hardliner Kadeshi out of attempting an attack on what they’d see as an Unclean intruder.”
“Heh. Or stopping riots by yourself.”
“Yeah, that too,” Noreena sighed as she cast a glance about the auditorium.
More people had begun to file in; the Imperialists had been especially prompt as they finished settling into their seats with a light hum of conversation. The Vaygr Admiralty and most of the Hiigaran brass had just arrived, stalking towards their usual seating arrangements in the auditorium out of a force of habit rather than any conscious thought – and at this ungodly hour, that was the only thing keeping people in motion at all.
“So, seen the ‘deshi at all?” Progie asked. “I keep meaning to get ahold of Nika. I haven’t seen her since the uh, swarmer reveal.”
“I stopped by the bunkroom to ask Rakim about the Eye…ya know, that mystery ball he used at the Drunken Cruiser…but I haven’t had a chance to get back to him. Just one thing after another kept me in the Bridge all day after that.”
She scowled darkly at the chain of events that had kept her from honoring the request she’d passed to the Ambassador through the two Cleansers. Progie, taking note of the angry look on Noreena’s face, eyed her hesitantly before speaking.
“Bad day yesterday?” he asked uneasily. “You’re looking crankier than Nika ever was.”
“Oh ‘bad day’ does not even begin to describe the mess that was yesterday. Not only did somebody screw up the order for more triple-pazaar coffee and sent some ungodly concoction I can’t even swallow…but Zalnitz’s lackeys have been stirring shit up in the Crusades again.”
She sighed angrily.
“They’re still ranting against Mak. I guess having Imperialists onboard with us – even if it’s just a small bunch of ‘em – was the straw that broke their backs. They’re saying he plans to completely corrupt the Crusades again, and so on and so forth. Mak’s been kept from strategy planning just to shut them up. Which is why we’re having this conference today instead of yesterday. I can’t say fuck often enough now.”
She paused a beat.
“The only good thing was that great bash those Vaygr resourcer pilots threw in the Main Hangar. They had music, booze, games, contests, the works. I think just about everybody on the ship was there for some time yesterday. And I’ve gotta admit – really good timing. Everybody’s been so worn down by the war lately.”
“I went down there too,” Progie replied with a grin. “I wanted to try Battle Chili with my improved endurance. And I didn’t get to try iti the last time they had it at the Collision. I got twenty seconds.”
“Not bad! Forty-two here. But that’s just cause of Qwaar’s Trinity.”
“And Rey got like thirty-four. Which I think scared the Vaygr a little.”
“Rey? What’s he got to do with this? I remember bumping him off our resourcer rotation a while back for his revenge prank against Rizzie for the fake Beast Infection two months ago.”
“Plenty. You know how he’s been absent for a while?”
“Yeah, I was wondering about that the other day,” she remarked. “I haven’t seen him since Kai’s urumi demo.”
“I wondered about that so I sent him a note asking what was up. He finally got back to me yesterday, saying Kiith-Sa sent him to the Vaygr resourcer crews as an exchange officer. Admiral Kasall’s idea, apparently. He took it as soon as they came to him with it – something about not being able to face his buddies and admit he pissed off a Cleanser into shaving the top of his head.”
Progie shrugged, then went on.
“Anyways, he got so excited about going that he forgot to tell everybody before he left.”
“Huh. Rey as a Vaygr resourcer pilot?” Noreena blinked. “Times sure are changing.”
“And Rey too. He’s got a steady girlfriend who actually wears him out for a change. Never saw that before. They’re into prank wars so elaborate I can’t even follow them. From the way he acted in the message – and I can’t remember him ever having been that calm before – I can tell he’s happy. He’s not bored, he’s not in trouble, and he’s not trying to think up something new and stupid. I can see it in his eyes. It’s looking like the best thing that ever happened to him.”
Noreena stared at him in amazement.
So even a crazy guy like Reydavic gets a lucky break every now and then. Not bad. Not bad at all. Sounds like he could keep busy long enough to actually grow up some.
“Well uh, keep me posted then,” she said dazedly, still shocked at the recent turn of events.
“No problem,” Progie said with a grin, then plopped into the chair he’d been leaning into. “I’m not gonna tell him about me and Nika. Not just yet.”
“Good idea,” Noreena replied, then shifted back into her napping position. She muttered an Old Kushan curseword as her back once again protested the sudden movement.
One of Qwaar’s medical robots suddenly burst nto the auditorium from the main entrance, and headed directly for Noreena. It came to an abrupt halt in front of her, then opened one of the many hatches in its body. From that hatch, a small hand held out a bottle of painkillers.
“I AM NOT NORMALLY IN THE BUSINESS OF HARMING MY KHAR,” Qwaar rumbled. “I CANNOT HAVE YOU DISTRACTED BY PAIN IN THIS MEETING. I WILL SEEK A BETTER WAY TO AWAKEN YOU NEXT TIME.”
Noreena quirked an eyebrow as she took the bottle. The robot saluted her as the Qwaar-bots had done in the past, and zipped away. Progie watched as it sped out of the auditorium, causing Vaygr and Hiigarans alike to dodge quickly as it whizzed past. Noreena promptly opened the bottle, and downed two of the pills. The pain in her back immediately began to fade.
“Is it me or has he been getting a bit more smart about things like tact lately?”
She blinked at Progie’s question, then shrugged.
“Given that he doesn’t yell or even talk in the Bridge whenever Kyliir’s on watch, I wouldn’t be surprised. He’s gotta have picked up something while we’ve been with him.”
She glanced around the auditorium again, noting that the last of the Somtaaw and Hiigaran brass had finally arrived, led by Ifriit slowly hobbling in with a cane tightly gripped in one hand, and Karan with her hands wrapped around his free arm.
She blinked in surprise. Ifriit’s hands no longer looked mechanical; they strongly resembled the flesh-and-blood ones he had lost. Had he gotten skin covers for them as Makaan had his bionic arm and leg?
Progie, noting her reaction, turned and watched the Somtaaw-Sa pick his way towards a seat in the front row, then collapse into it with relief. Karan glided into the chair next to him with an ease that reminded Noreena of Rakim.
“Guess ChiefMed got tired of him bitching about having to use the floatchair,” Noreena remarked.
Actually it’s not that, Karan’s mental voice interrupted with the air of someone speaking with an ear-to-ear smile. The organ cloning banks on Haven finally sent up his limb replacements. Arms and legs are the longest to rebuild because they’re collections of tissues and organs rather than individual ones like hearts or lungs. He went into surgery to attach them right after that conference with Nika. He’s still on strict rest. He won’t be walking around too much for now, but he’s finally on the mend. He’ll go back in the Kuun-Lan’s tank once the strategies are worked out. That’ll give the limbs time to fully integrate with his body.
Noreena grinned. Progie, who’d heard Karan’s mental voice as well, grinned just as widely.
That’s great news. Tell him congrats from me and Progie when you get a chance.
I don’t need messages passed around as if I can’t hear, a new voice growled faintly. Thank you Captain, Doctor.
Ifriit turned in his seat and shot them both a mischevious wink. Karan waved at them from her seat. Then the pair turned back to face the screen, and leaned lightly into one another.
“I keep forgetting the Kuun-Lan still has its Trinity System,” Progie muttered dazedly. “Never thought I’d see the day, but there you have it. A telepathic kiith-Sa. He’s going to get up to things we’ll wish he couldn’t.”
Noreena snickered at the collective heart attack the Admiralty would have once they found out.
A chime rang out through the auditorium, interrupting her thoughts. Heads turned towards Chief Intel, who now stood at the lectern, eyeing them expectantly.
“We’ll be starting in a few moments, so please take your seats,” he called out.
A golden hyperspace window opened behind him, then emitted one Bentusi robot. He didn’t notice until the automaton bumped into him from behind. He practically jumped over the lectern before he turned to see what had collided with him.
“Our apologies,” the robot thrummed. “We experienced a slight misjump due to the Qwaar-Jet’s gravitic bubble. We would not have been able to come at all had the God of War been underway to a destination.”
“I see,” Intel remarked with an aplomb that had returned so fast Noreena wondered if he’d been taking lessons from Ambassador Rakim. He motioned for the Bentusi robot to take its position in the conference room. The robot bobbed in an approximation of a respectful bow, then floated to an unobtrusive location near a far wall in the auditorium.
Several more moments passed, in which Makaan and the remaining Vaygr stragglers finally found their way through the auditorium’s doors and headed towards the last empty seats. The Warlord looked grumpier than he had in a long time; Noreena guessed Zalnitz’s backers had added a good deal more to his “People to Punish” list than his usual schedule did.
The Kadeshi arrived last, wearing their ceremonial robes as always. Rakim led the group to a group of empty seats reserved for them in the front row. Nika flashed a quick wave at Progie, who responded in kind. Then the group had seated themselves.
Intel nodded approvingly, and rang the chime again.
“Thank you all for coming,” he announced. “Let me begin.”
“This is the plan: The Qwaar-Jet will manufacture gravitic drive units for all Allied capital ships, from frigate-class on up. As you now know, the gravitic drive’s bubble will prevent Infection Beams from touching our vessels as well as other weapons fire, both kinetic and particle. This will considerably extend our fleets’ lifespan in any future battles with the Qwaar-deesh. We will also be taking on portions of Qwaarmetal armor for the carriers, destroyers, battlecruisers, and flagships, so they can last longer should those bubbles go down. This upgrade period will last approximately three days. Before anybody asks, the Qwaar-Jet has agreed to donate his Keepers and his army of construction robots to aid in this monumental task.”
He paused a beat.
“We will then send a small taskforce into the Garden to rendezvous with the leaders of the Kadeshi, with whom we will organize and coordinate an appropriate battle plan for taking on that abomination in the Cathedral. The Kadeshi Ambassador and I have both agreed that the plan will include the Protectors disabling their powerful hyperspace inhibitors so the remaining Allied Fleets can enter the Garden and aid in the battle. That is why this rendezvous is so essential.”
He cast a gaze across the room.
“Are there any questions?”
An approving murmur rose, indicating that nobody had any particular complaints about his words. Intel nodded, and went on.
“What remains now is for us to determine how to safely send our taskforce in without alerting the Qwaar-deesh to their presence. One suggestion is to send them in cloaked, thus disguising their hyperspace signatures. The only thing I can see wrong with it is the possibility of both the Qwaar-deesh and Protectors having proximity sensors, possibly enhanced ones with more range than ours.”
A pale hand rose from the front row.
“Yes, Ambassador? You have the floor.”
Rakim rose, and faced the auditorium at large.
“We do indeed have advanced proximity sensors, as do the Qwaar-deesh,” he began. “That will not work.”
He paused a beat.
“However, there is an alternative path into the Garden that will alert as few as possible to your presence once you are inside. It is a wormhole, or a slipgate, that leads from a point in an isolated sector of space to an area approximately halfway between the Outside, and the Outer Boundary of the Cathedral. This area is also rife with plasma storms, much like the Ashuuri Pass, of which I have already informed you. While not as intense as the storms at the Pass, these can still distort sensor readings and easily hide any sign that intruders are present. It is an ideal location.”
“Excellent,” the Bentusi robot thrummed. “We approve.”
“However,” Rakim said, holding up a hand, “it is by and far the most dangerous way inside. Few ships make the transition safely, and those that survive tell tales of an area of hyperspace that is alive, and will consume your ship at the slightest of provocation.”
The auditorium went so silent Noreena could’ve heard a pin hit the floor.
“It is the location where the Progenitors harvested the organism for their neural relays came from, and also very likely where the Naggarok acquired its Beast Infection. We call this area of hyperspace Tortured Space.”
“Absolutely not,” the Bentusi robot suddenly snapped, its voice quivering. “There must be another option.”
“Every other option presents a very good chance that the Qwaar-deesh will detect incoming vessels, even if they are cloaked. Then they or my people will retaliate before you have a chance to enter the Garden,” Rakim replied in a voice that stung despite being precisely as calm as before. “This mission would be over before it even began.”
“There must be another option,” the Bentusi repeated angrily as the robot rose higher in the chamber, moving in a manner akin to nervous fidgeting. “We cannot enter the home of the Devourer!”
Ifriit whirled to face the robot.
“Some courage you lot have,” he growled. “The minute this war gets uncomfortable for you, you decide you want no part of it? How chivalrous of you.”
He paused a beat to let his words sink in. The robot hovered in a manner that could best be described as extreme agitation.
“So far you have proven yourselves honorable enough,” the Somtaaw-Sa went on, “until now. I thought you were nothing like the Bentusi my predecessor had to beat sense into during the Beast War. Perhaps I was wrong?”
“You must understand our fear, Somtaaw," the Bentusi replied in a somewhat calmer tone. "We have only come because it was a calculated risk to deploy as much firepower as we now have against Ashoran and his Devourer-aided forces. As advanced as it is, our weapons are simply not up to the task of deflecting the Devourer in its own territory. Can you not see why we are...afraid?”
Ifriit opened his mouth, only to fall silent when Karan held up a placating hand.
“I have a compromise,” she said. “The Bentusi could wait outside, and take down any Qwaar-deesh forces that get flushed out from our attack on their stronghold in the Cathedral. Their considerable firepower is more than capable of this job.”
The robot's nervous hovering ceased; it resumed its calm position above the audience's heads as if nothing had happened.
“That would be an acceptable alternative,” the Bentusi replied in a much more normal tone, relief coloring their voice.
“Settled,” Chief Intel sighed. “Now I need a decision on which ships will join this taskforce. Then we can get on with planning the actual assault, now that we know how to counter Infection attempts by the subverted Garden.”
“What about the Ree-Naal for the task flag?” Noreena suggested as an idea popped into her head. “The Mortann taskforce sent to find Qwaar has some pretty good experience with navigating in dense gas clouds with sensor-distortion properties. We can mix in a good number of the newer Allied ships for escorts as well – some Imperialist, some Hiigaran, some Republican. We can show the Protectors that the Alliance is unified across this many different factions in opposition to Ash. And, if something goes wrong in there, the taskforce can handle the threat until reinforcements arrive.”
Heads nodded in approval to Noreena’s words.
I DON’T LIKE IT, KHAR. IT MEANS YOU WOULD LEAVE MY SAFETY.
“Oh, I get that,” Noreena replied, “but your Trinity System would wake up every Qwaar-deesh sensors manager between here and the Garden.”
“WHO SAYS I WOULD BE USING IT WHILE GOING THROUGH THE WORMHOLE? YOU AND THE TASKFORCE WILL STILL REQUIRE MY PROTECTION.”
“I wouldn’t argue with him for too long, Noreena,” Ifriit remarked with a crooked grin. “He’s got a good point. And the better sensor grid for those kinds of environments. You can have the Ree-Naal and another Archangel II for backup if you want.”
Noreena paused for several moments’ fierce cogitation, then nodded. Qwaar’s warning made too much sense to ignore.
“I can live with that,” she finally answered. Ifriit had clearly regained his old sense of humor with his new limbs attached.
“Now, with the taskforce flag and heavies more or less decided on,” Chief Intel stated, “I want contributions for the remainder of the group. Who wants to help show the Kadeshi the strength of our diversity?”
Moments later, Noreena’s taskforce had gained one Republican Saarkin-Cho II carrier with full wings of upgraded bombers and fighters, three Imperialist ion frigates, two Somtaaw Assault frigates, a Vaygr destroyer, three Vaygr torpedo frigates, four Hiigaran ion frigates, a Hiigaran destroyer, and a collection of assorted corvettes from every major Ally. At thirty ships, with no less than five heavy capital ships, this was no small taskforce.
“Well,” Noreena remarked, “I can certainly live with a group that size if I’m taking Qwaar with me. Besides, if the ‘deshi get into any trouble, or are in any trouble by the time we get there, we can help them out as soon as possible.”
A murmur of approval rose in the auditorium; so far nobody had any problems with the way things were shaping up.
“Now, about that assault on the shipyard,” Chief Intel sighed. “I’m pretty sure we’re going to need as much firepower as possible to take down that super T-MAT Ashoran’s been building. Any suggestions on increasing our capacity for causing damage with the Bentusi outside of the Garden? I’m well aware that we’ve all been working on upgrades for a while now. It’s time we laid our cards on the table as far as those are concerned.”
“Our fleet upgrades to face the Qwaar-deesh are almost complete,” Makaan answered first. “All of our battlecruisers have phased Trinity Cannons, new ion cannon armanents, and a number of other upgrades completed as well. The most promising is the inclusion of antimatter warheads. My Admiralty has already been devising new tactics and strategies to cope with the overwhelming firepower of Qwaar-deesh forces. They are eager to try them out.”
“Excellent. Anyone else?” Chief Intel called out.
Threya raised her hand.
“We have been experimenting with a number of ion cannon upgrades,” she spoke up. “Most were carried out with information stolen from those of our brethren who have remained loyal to Ashoran. Some of this data may well have come from the Qwaar-deesh’s own upgrades to their ships. It should provide useful to others, as well. My people estimate they can increase ion cannon damage by a full thirty to fifty percent. We've got other upgrades as well, but that's the big one.”
An approving murmor of how quickly the Imperialists had become willing to aid the Allied cause rippled through the room. Some people simply bubbled with eagerness to get their hands on whatever stolen Qwaar-deesh data Threya had.
“I am more than willing to provide as much information on Ashoran and the Qwaar-deesh as I have,” Threya calmly added, as if understanding the undercurrent beneath the murmuring. “The Chief of Hiigaran Intelligence has my preliminary data on this subject. We will provide more as the situation allows.”
Chief Intel nodded his agreement with her words.
“Now, I’m sure others are willing to announce their upgrades and plans, but in order to speed things up, I’m going to ask that we all submit those once we have our attack plan worked out. For now, let’s see what we can come up with in terms of assaulting that megaship.”
“Hey,” a Somtaaw Admiral suddenly interrupted. “D’you think we could work in a pass at getting the Sajuuk back? No offense to anybody else’s planning but I am high and mightily sick of Ash having that ship. If he’s gonna ditch it for that super-TMAT of his, how about we take it back?”
A loud rumble of assent, joined by Ifriit, Makaan, and Karan, rose from the room. Noreena grinned. Chief Intel’s eyebrows rose.
“I actually was going to suggest that we do so,” he replied mildly, “as the Sajuuk is part of what’s controlling the organic shipyard in the Garden. Taking it away from him would be quite the blow to his war effort.”
“I wondered when we were gonna get back to that,” Noreena commented with an evil chuckle. “I’m game for it if you guys are.”
INDEED. I CAN IMAGINE HOW MY BROTHER FEELS. WE MAY HAVE ONCE BEEN ENEMIES, BUT I REMEMBER HOW IT FELT TO BE CONTROLLED BY ONE WITH NO HONOR. IF WE CAN LIBERATE HIM, WE MUST DO SO.
Last edited by Chrome; 7th Aug 09 at 10:11 PM.
Well Noreena is becoming more psycho everyday and now the sultry Akira is just as puppy dog faced as nika when the Urumi was introduced. Hurray for updates!
I have mixed feelings about the Bentusi though. I know that the beast is a dreadful enemy to them, but I still can't get over how silly they seem in this chapter. The Bentusi seem almost childish in their fear of the Beast. I don't know if it's me but that's how I feel.
"I present to you the Phone Microwave! (name subject to change)
Good point, I did go overboard there. Fixed. They're still nervous, but now they cite a logical reason for it instead of just screeching irrational fear in their heads.
Still the same old Tusi..... Can't stand the thought of infection, even WITH Qwaars Gravitic drives to blunt infection....
Ha, Akari is the ex, called it! Love it chrome, the plot thickens and Rey actually going steady? Wow.
Yep. I wanted to show the awkwardness before it was revealed. Nobody really expositions and says "Oh, hi, this is my ex, this is why we are so weird when we're in the same room together" just as someone is introduced.
And I was hoping it would show up to people before the truth was revealed. It's one thing to indicate a relationship clearly. It's another thing to infer it indirectly without leaving too many blatant clues.
Well Crome, have some chocolate!
Nice update. I'm kind of curious about something: The byplay between Akari and Kai seems a bit more the sort of thing I'd expect from a couple of teenagers than from the rather restrained social manners the Kadeshi seem to regularly exhibit, although admittedly Akari seems a rather unique sort. I'm not trying to be too critical, she just seems a bit of an odd fit. I'm just curious if she's got the Kadeshi mysteriousness to her.
Thanks again - made my entire day!
@S110: Akari would probably get on anyone's nerves after a while, except possibly Rey who's as much of a childish pain in the rear as she is. Hmmm, I wonder...?
it's only Akari that's being childish
Kai is following codes of conduct very well
It's just that Akari is bugging the hell out of him
why's she a cleanser again?
Looks like she's testing Kai's faith. "Bugging, childish, cute ex or the code?" thing.
Also good to see Ifriit back on-line.
Well I think it's pretty clear to everyone from my posts that my focus is definitely on character interations in the entire legacies series, and it's wonderful seeing things like Dr. Reyan and Nika getting along, but there are other relationships and interactions that were quite central in Legacies 1 & 2, such as Noreena & Mak, but have been simmering on the backburner for quite some time, actually the two of them has gotten any real "me" time at all during the entirety of Legacies 3. Even Karan & Ifrit, a sidestory that went the length of the first two volumes was completely unsaid until just now. Intentional perhaps? Not sure but it does seem odd that character dynamics so focused in the first two parts would suddenly up and vanish in the third.
As for Akari, she'd match wonderfully with Jerel IMO. The dedicated working son of a Vaygr Warlord would balance out nicely with the free-wheeling, fancy-free and flirty Kadeshi.
Last edited by paladinlord06; 10th Aug 09 at 6:46 AM.
In a war, a lot of things wind up on the backburner.
And when one's boyfriend is out running an entire faction in the Alliance, it really cuts into the personal time. Since Noreena has her gigantic handful of a Godship plus her crew to deal with, she can't really say she has much free time either.
The narration is limited third-person, focused around Noreena. Things like Ifriit/Karan and other relationships that aren't onboard the Qwaar-Jet tend to take a backburner for that reason.
Excellent, I rather enjoyed it. thus I am reading it 4AM in the morning.
Keep up the good work.
Hi! I'm new here. I'd just like to say that I'm really enjoying your Legacies series, which I've been reading for several months now. (It was actually what convinced me to join this forum, after being introduced to it via Children of Kadesh.) Anyway, well done so far Chrome, and I hope that this story continues to deliver awesomeness!
Oh - and I've got something that's been niggling me for a few days now. Why does Qwaar continue to use his voice - wouldn't it be more efficient at times for him simply to flash the lights, like he used to at the beginning of Legacies III?
Looking forward to more Qwaar-deesh-bashing chapters!
I think it's probably cause he realizes he can get more out of razzing people with the voice than flashing random lights. Besides, with a booming voice like that, how can he not mess around with people?
Rereading this chapter along with a couple previous chapters, there's something peculiar I've noticed about Kai. When talking about the mystery ball/Eye of Kadesh he did a lot of twitching, almost reminded me of someone on a drug withdrawl or bringing up a traumatic memory.
What we do know is that it was mentioned earlier in Legacies 3 that Nika was a former Turanic Raider, and since Kai is her brother then that'd make him a Turanic, not a native Kadeshi. So I gotta wonder, given his twitchy & erratic physical reactions in explaining the Eye, if maybe his brain wasn't scrambled with it a couple times too many, or is subconsciously trying to rebel against being "programmed"?
You'd twitch too if you had a cleanser behind you that kept pinching your buttocks.
Was she? Missed that part, although given Kai's response it makese sense too, but it could be read either way. Shameless flirt.
and so it begins...
Stealing Back the Sajuuk! (A Legacies Tale)
You missed Kai's line: "Stop touching me!"
Do you people read so fast that you miss key plotpoints?
Well in my defense this IS Kadeshi we are talking about.
Last edited by paladinlord06; 12th Aug 09 at 7:14 PM.
As you can guess, Akari is an anomaly where Kadeshi are concerned.
I'll say one thing for Akari, that is one lady that I would not want to be my ex if she ever carried a grudge or decided to stalk me, there'd be no getting away from her. Ever.
Why is Kai suddenly acting like Achmed the Dead Terrorist?"Stop touching me!"
Anyway, cool chapter, the Bentusi all of a sudden strike me as not-quite-so-cool-as-they-think-they-are. But still, yay for massive fleet actions.
Now, is the Qwaar-jet actually going to be put in danger this time? It's getting a little boring, having him utterly invincible to absolutely everything Ash can throw at him. Maybe he can actually take damage this time round?
He hasn't been invincible-the T-MAT beams did damage to his armor in a previous battle.
Save the Vault!
My building from captured ships tutorial:
Homeworld 2: Crossfire
That's the whole point of armour. It takes damage on behalf of the ship's internal workings. Damage to the armour doesn't count - what counts is damage to the innards, like happens to every other ship in a major battle, at least to some extent.
The point is that the beams managed to affect him whereas most other weaponry doesn't leave a scratch. Thus he is not invincible. It's likely that the Sajuuk's main gun could affect him as well (Someone correct me if this has already been disproven).
I bet that he will be taking some damage soon, however, for the exact reason you just stated OJN.
Guys, time to divert that conversation to the Legacies Discussion Thread. It's there for a reason.
So you can discuss stuff like Qwaar-Jet vs Sajuuk, and all those other interesting things that the story brings about in your heads.
I would like to see what the allies will do about getting the Sajuuk back while it is blasting away at them and shooting down any and all boarding frigs it sees. I for see that it is going to be a nasty, horendes, and blood filled battle that might almost destroy the alliance.
I suddenly just recalled that Vagyrs are famous for their corvette squadrons, If they team up with Kadeshi fighter pilots their strike wings would be unstoppable.
Noreena blinked groggily at the wall chrono, which glowed a particularly offensive 0247 hours. She rolled onto her other side, then squeezed her eyes shut.
Her eyes flew open again as she realized that sound had woken her seconds earlier.
Who the hell is that? she wondered. We just sorted out the battle plan.
“Qwaar, what’s going on out there?” she snapped tiredly.
“I believe it is a personal visit,” the Godship replied in his form of a whisper, a voice that sounded much more more normal than the loud roaring booming that he called ‘speaking.’
“Yeah, well, they can come back when it’s 0600,” Noreena growled, then rolled over again. She yanked the blanket over her head, and tried her best to cut the noise out.
“Oh, fuck it.”
Noreena lurched out of bed, flinging the covers aside. One hand sought out her prosthetic Qwaarmetal arm, which stood on its charging stand, while her feet prodded about for her slippers in the dark. She then stood in the slippers as she reattached the arm. She tromped to the door, snatching her bathrobe off the chair next to her bed. She wrapped it around herself, then tied its sash as she trudged sleepily through her quarters.
“I’m coming. Don’t get yer panties in a wad,” she grumbled as she picked up her pace through the living room.
Noreena stabbed her prosthetic left hand at the door’s controls with enough force that she heard glass crack and metal crumple under the force of the blow. The door whizzed open, spilling brilliant pale blue light into the room. Her eyes promptly squinted into tiny slits, reducing any details about her visitor to a dark blurry shilouette standing outside the door.
“This had better be good,” she growled angrily, her voice shifting from her own into her imitation of Qwaar’s.
The visitor gasped, then backed up several paces. Noreena forced her eyes to open wider in the light. Then she did a double-take.
Nika stood outside the doorway, dressed in her usual robes. Her eyes and nose had turned into swollen parodies of their normal selves, indicating that she’d spent the entire night crying.
As if to underscore her emotions, a lone tear snaked down her cheek.
“H-Holy One, I’m s-sorry for getting you up b-but I can’t talk to anybody else,” she stammered feebly amid choked sobs. “I…I c-can’t go back. I j-just can’t!”
Noreena stared blankly at her for several moments. Then her brain finally woke enough to catch up to what it was hearing.
“Come on in,” she said tired yet friendly tone. “Qwaar, lights on dim. And start the coffee.”
“Of course, Khar,” the Godship replied in that same quiet voice.
The Khar’s quarters’ illumination rose to just enough to let Noreena pick her way amongst the furniture. The sound of a coffee machine bubbling away gently rose in the air.
She motioned for Nika to take a seat on one of the three chairs in the room while she tromped to her kitchenette, which was visible from the chairs in question. With one hand, she plucked a mug off a shelf, while she drummed her fingers on the countertop. The coffeemaker’s noises were the only sound in the entire room besides the ventilators. Out the corner of her eye, she saw Nika snatch a tissue from the box on the coffeetable, and dab miserably at her eyes with it.
The machine beeped. Noreena set her mug under its spout, which released a perfectly portioned stream of piping-hot black liquid. She then swept the mug up, and walked to an armchair facing Nika.
“Okay,” she said as she plopped into the seat. A corner of her mind dazedly noted that she had gotten so good with her reflexes that she didn’t slosh the liquid even when half-awake.
“I’m listening. And start at the beginning, so I can see what’s going on here.”
She took a long sip of the blisteringly hot beverage as she locked a steady gaze on the young Kadeshi. Nika gulped, then stared down at the crumpled tissue in her hands. She then looked up at Noreena as she blinked back fresh tears.
“I can’t go back home. Back to the Garden,” she finally replied, her voice only slightly steadier than it had been earlier. “He’s in there. He’s going to read my m-mind, and then h-he’s going to make the Garden kill everybody once he knows I told you. And…and the Ambassador a-and Kai…they’ll make me go back, c-cause I have to. Duty and everything.”
Fresh tears welled out of her eyes, then rolled down her cheeks.
“You understand. You knew it was Ashoran, not th-the Garden.”
Noreena winced inwardly.
Ouch. I should’ve seen that one coming. She’s basically a Garden-phobe now, and you don’t make a phobic person face their fears all at once. You just don’t.
She took another sip of her coffee as she mulled over Nika’s predicament. A disturbing thought welled in her mind like the steam rising from her mug.
Shit. Girl’s got a point. Ash IS going to pick up her mind, and sense that she told us. He’s basically counting on her NOT telling anybody. Shitshitshit. Okay, I can tell Rakim that. The guy’s smart. He’s probably anticipating Nika not going anyways. He brought her here cause he knew she saw something. I don’t think he’d be planning to take her to the Order right away…would he?
She sighed, then lowered the mug.
“I’ll talk to the Ambassador and Kai for you,” she said in her most reassuring voice. “Your fear is perfectly normal, considering what happened to you.”
Nika brightened instantly.
“To be honest,” Noreena added, “I think it’d be cruel to send you back right now. And I don’t think the Ambassador would’ve brought you out all this way…without anticipating that you wouldn’t want to go back.”
“He’s a smart man, Nika. He has to be if they let him take the Eye out of the Garden.”
“W-wait, the Eye is here?!” she blurted out. Noreena nodded as she fought back a grimace threatening to rob her face of the soothing visage she wanted the troubled Kadeshi to see.
Oops. She obviously doesn’t remember that night at the Cruiser very well. Ah, well, it does help my case.
“I saw it in his hand, Nika,” she said firmly. “They don’t let just anyone take the Eye with them.”
“Well he is the Speaker,” she commented uneasily, her hands clenching nervously.
“Why don’t we talk to him together, then?” Noreena suggested, then held up a finger. “After I get dressed, though.”
Rakim let out a surprisingly long sigh, then sipped his tea. He set it back down on Noreena’s coffee table, then leaned back in the armchair. It was the same one Noreena had occupied earlier; the two women sat facing him on the sofa. Nika eyed him nervously as she rubbed at her nose with a fresh tissue.
It had been Qwaar’s idea to summon the Ambassador; he suggested that the Cleansers need not give input on the early stages of this change to the Ambassador’s plans. Noreena had agreed, since having Kai and Akari in here would’ve been too much for Nika, given her confession.
“I did anticipate that Protector Nika would not wish to return to the Garden,” he finally said. “What I did not anticipate was how terrified she would be at the prospect of explaning that fear. I had thought she would confide in me, not awaken you in the midst of your sleep.”
“Oh, don’t worry about that,” Noreena quickly replied. “This is important enough that I’d rather be told now, not at 0600.”
“T-thank you,” Nika replied with a sigh of relief.
“No problem,” she said with a friendly smile. “If you can’t talk to your Holy One, who can you talk to?”
She then turned her attention back to the Ambassador.
“So how do we do this, then? If her experience is what’s gonna convince the Order to act now, then what?”
“If Nika cannot come out to meet the Order, and give her account, then we shall bring the Order to her.”
He paused, then explained.
“I had a reserve plan in mind, should this happen,” Rakim replied. “The original plan was for us three, and Akari, to take our craft and dock with a fuelpod carrying the Order of the Garden. It would be escorted by our finest Kunai pilots in the guise of a normal patrol group. We would head to the Kadesh-Toba, our flagship, and give our accounts to the Order in depth. Then the decision would be made. I would return to the Qwaar-Jet if my services as Speaker would assist in coordinating the strike against Ashoran’s forces. They would have remained on the Kadesh-Toba during the battle.”
He drew in a breath, then eyed Nika.
“Because I am to summon this group using the Eye connected to the Qwaar-Jet,” he explained, “I can easily notify them of modifications to the plan. I can recommend that the docking and the meeting would take place onboard the Qwaar-Jet itself. This would permit you to remain in complete safety, and undetected by Ashoran. He would have to sort through all the minds in this taskforce first before finding you.”
Nika blinked, then pondered his words.
“That…that’d work,” she said uneasily. “At least I wouldn’t have to look at the Garden, or fly in it. This ship doesn’t have very many windows.”
“Precisely,” Rakim said with a gentle smile.
Noreena eyed him curiously.
“What do you mean ‘with the Eye connected to the Qwaar-Jet’?”
The Ambassador nodded to her.
“The Eye is composed of the same organism that makes up the Garden. It responds quite well to Far Jump Cores. As you may have speculated, the organism tends to be amplified by Trinity Systems. This was the cause for Koshiir Ra’s double becoming Ashoran. No other ship had the organic-duplicate problem until after Far Jumpers became more commonplace among the Progenitors.”
“Wonder if that’s how Ash got his Beast strain as strong as it is? With Far Jumpers?”
“Quite likely, especially since he’s likely still using Lord Makaan’s backengineered Cores in his war machine,” Rakim replied smoothly. “With a Trinity System, the Eye’s ability to influence minds is amplified to where it can leave a permanent imprint upon them.
“Our sacred texts indicate that the Eye’s original purpose was to operate the organic shipyard that is the Garden. It does so by placing a mental imprint on the organism that told it what to build, and how to do so. It was designed to do this with amplification from the Sajuuk’s Cores. The Garden was originally planned with the Sajuuk as its controller. It was to serve as an extension of the Great Creator. Without the Eye – and quite likely not knowing that it still exists – Ashoran is using the Sajuuk in its place as best as he can. The organism is responding to its Cores.”
Realization finally dawned on Noreena.
“So by plugging the Eye into the Qwaar-Jet’s systems, you can affect minds at a much longer distance”—
“And with far greater intensity and precision,” Rakim finished for her.
“I see now,” she said with a nod.
“There is something you do not know,” the Godship suddenly interrupted, his deep voice toned down to suit the ungodly hour. “My previous Khar possessed the Eye during the Second Great War. He used it to manipulate his followers into absolute, complete obedience. It also amplified his psychic attacks, and granted him a greater ability to coordinate his forces.”
Everyone stared at the walls in shock.
“So how’d it wind up with the Kadeshi?” Noreena finally asked.
“I ejected it forcibly from my systems after turning against my former master after the destruction of the Great Sphere,” Qwaar replied, a hint of his louder voice showing in the bite of his words. “I led Koshiir Ra and his followers to where it had drifted to after that battle. We thought it best to keep it lest it fall in the wrong hands. I recognized it instantly at the Drunken Cruiser, but I considered it unwise to mention it just then.”
“How long have you had the Eye?” Noreena asked Rakim, her curiosity piqued.
“We have held the Eye and the Records – our sacred texts – for as long as we have resided in the Garden. As I stated, the Records were given to us by the Historian Jakuul, and Koshiir Ra. Qwaar-Jet was also mentioned,” he added, casting a glance to a nearby wall, then resumed. “The Eye was given to us at the same time. It was meant to aid us in doing our work. In ancient times, before the Qwaar-deesh came to us in their disguises, we were Protectors of both the Garden and the Records, so that the galaxy would know what to do when Ashoran rose once again.”
Noreena blinked. Nika looked completely unfazed, as if she had heard all this before.
“The Records contained a prophecy for the Third Great War, Khar,” the Ambassador explained quietly. “The war we are in. There was a statue made to supplement it, but Jakuul took it with him when he left the Garden for the final time. He stated that he had a fourth, and final Record to complete, and would deliver it to us via his followers in the Great Reunion to come. He said that the Fourth Record would contain information on how to win the Third and final Great War. It detailed how to defeat Ashoran permanently. The First Record holds the prophecy. The Second and Third Records indicate the history and technological data I already supplied.
“This prophecy indicated the time when the Great Records of Jakuul would be reunited – this Great Reunion. It indicated several Harbingers, marker events that would tell us what to do next. The most significant was the Harbinger of Qwaar-Jet, when a Great Judgement would be meted out, so that only the most worthy of the Protectors may partake in the Great Reunion, and join the fight against Ashoran and his forces when the time came.”
“For a long time without the guidance of Jakuul to aid us, we forgot our heritage as Protectors of the Record, and only knew the Protection of the Garden,” he said quietly. “It was only after the forces of the Exiles destroyed so much of our society, that we realized that we had ignored the First Record at our peril. The Exile forces are described quite clearly as the Harbinger of Qwaar-Jet. We rebuilt our civilization as well as we could and began our preparations for the Third Great War after that time.”
Rakim paused a beat to sip his tea again.
“There is one more thing to explain,” he said quietly. “We had made a grave error when we disregarded the First Record. Had we examined it and the history around the Qwaar-deesh more closely, we would have seen through Ashoran’s deception instantly. As it were, it took another several decades after the Harbinger of Qwaar-Jet for us to realize how perilous our situation truly was.”
“So that’s how you found out the lie?”
“Indeed,” Rakim replied. “The Order had already begun to suspect things amiss when our preparations yielded important clues. The First Record simply…sealed the deal, as you would say. However, there are those among our society who still would insist that we are inviting Unclean heathen into the midst of our sacred sanctuary. Nika’s testimony would be sufficient to convince even them that something is wrong.”
“So the meeting’s that important, then?” Nika asked nervously.
“Yes, and it is why I must alter the plan so that they may still hear you, but not at the cost of your safety.”
The young Kadeshi looked down at the crumpled tissue in her hands, then looked up at the Ambassador
“T-thank you,” she whispered, a relieved smile on her face. “I can do this now.”
“Good,” Rakim replied kindly. “Khar, would you kindly inform the Allies of the changed plan as well as about the Fourth Record? They may well know where that is.”
“Actually, we know what the Fourth Record is,” Noreena replied grimly, feeling her gut sink through the deck. “And where. It’s not pretty news.”
She sighed, then went on.
“This kiith, Somtaaw, used to have a collection of what we called Star-Metal Scrolls. What you described the Records being made of is exactly what the Scrolls were made of. They were kept in our most sacred temple on Kharak. Unfortunately…”
She let her voice trail off as she gritted her teeth.
“…the last time anybody heard of or saw them, was on Kharak, and before it was burned by the Taiidan Empire. As far as I or anybody else knows, they’re still there, on Kharak, in the ruins of our civilization there.”
Rakim blinked in shock.
“Somtaaw,” he muttered in amazement. “Somtaaw. Why didn’t I see that?”
She eyed him quizzically.
“The followers of Jakuul were called the Suum-Taur, the Keepers of the Record,” he quickly explained, his mind working through an idea. “I suspect our Hiigaran ancestors had members of the Suum-Taur onboard the Exile ship that entered the Garden. It’s the best explanation as for why Jakuul, Qwaar-Jet, and Koshiir Ra even accepted us into their fold. They knew we were already Keepers.”
“Sounds like you’ve some fresh news for the Order,” Noreena replied with a mischevious grin.
“Of course,” Rakim replied with a startling grin. “It’s not every day I discover a new part of our history just from a name. Fascinating.”
He took a deep breath to calm himself, then sipped his tea again.
“Of course, the discovery of the location of the Fourth Record…is indeed a difficult piece of news. At least I have finally met the descendants of Jakuul’s followers. We are indeed at the Great Reunion. Certainly not in any way I’d have expected.”
“We’re not a bunch of historians anymore,” she said with a crooked grin, “But at least the Scrolls were well-kept up until the Burning.”
“And if Ashoran were to find out about the Fourth Record and where it is, he will likely seek to destroy it before we can find it,” Rakim explained. “We must find those Scrolls.”
“We’re gonna have to save that for later,” Noreena warned with an upheld hand. “First we need to save the Garden, and get Ash outta there. Then we can talk about digging the Scrolls out of Kharak. And I gotta warn you, that won’t be easy. For most of us, digging up something on Kharak is like digging up an old, sacred grave. Or defiling a sacred temple. It’s just not normally done. You could say we treat what’s left at Kharak like you do the Garden. If somebody turned a fleet of harvesters on it, you wouldn’t have a sane Hiigaran left back here.”
The Ambassador nodded.
“The Garden most certainly has priority right now,” he agreed. “We will discuss the Fourth Record another time, Khar.”
“I’ll go update the rest of the Alliance leaders,” she said with a nod as she rose from her seat.
The elevator doors slid open as Noreena strode onto the Qwaar-Jet’s Bridge. She straightened her uniform, then walked towards the dais atop which her command chair sat.
Revkiir rose from the chair and greeted her with a salute. Noreena alighted the steps to the dais, then stood facing the Bridge. The Vaygr woman eyed her curiously; the Qwaar-Jet Khar usually flopped into her chair the moment she neared it.
“Welcome back, Captain. How goes it?”
“Well enough, I suppose,” Noreena said with a curt nod. “Still haven’t gotten enough sleep, but it’ll have to do.”
She then raised her voice.
“I’d like everyone’s attention on me rather than their stations for a moment.”
All heads and eyes turned towards her.
“I want to give an update on the current battle plan,” she announced. “As you know, the Alliance is going to be divided into several groups for the big Garden Spectacular.”
She paused a beat as she let them absorb that information and ready themselves for the rest of her announcement.
“All division groups will be made up of ships mixed from all faction of the Alliance, and they will hit their assigned targets simultaneously,” Noreena said as she swept her gaze across the people around her. “Fleets One, Two, and Three are the largest, and they will hit the super T-MAT. Fleet One will be the initial outreach to the Kadeshi, so we’re going through the back door entrance ot the Garden. The rest will be coming the long route by Far Jumpers and wakejumping to the Garden borders. Fleets Four through Eight will be hitting secondary targets and providing diversionary cover to draw as much Qwaar-deesh interference away from us.”
She paused a beat, then continued.
“Their biggest move will be – if possible – to make an attack and boarding run on the Sajuuk and take the Great Creator back for the Allies. We’ve been supplied with a highly effective nanite bomb by a joint Bentusi-Republican research team that will slow down any Infection onboard the Godship. This makes that boarding attempt possible for our people. It’s about damn time, huh?”
She waited with a wicked grin as Bridge crewmembers, both Vaygr and Hiigaran, cheered those last sentences. Once the noise died down, she went on, pacing about the dais as she spoke.
“We’re in Fleet One, which is our taskforce. It’s not going to be easy, but we’re damn well gonna get this job done. From what I last heard before they let me out of the strategy meeting, we’ve got about sixteen more ships added to the group, so the Allies can start having a strong presence in the Garden right away. Keep that in mind when you coordinate your departments with theirs.”
She glanced around the Bridge.
“I want you to read up on your briefing packets as provided by Qwaar to your stations. I want everyone aware of how best to not insult the Kadeshi in their home turf, and how to keep alert for Qwaar-deesh trouble. Qwaar and Progie have worked out a good estimate on Qwaar-deesh capabilities within the Garden. I want those estimates memorized like sacred texts.”
She nodded approvingly at the acknowledgements everyone gave her.
“All right, everybody. Let’s get to it! Get ready to kick some Qwaar-deesh ass!”
Another fresh round of cheering and applause flooded the air; the Qwaar-Jet’s crew were as ready for the next phase of the war as they could be. Optimism sang in the air as people readied themselves for a chance to truly set Ashoran back, more so than with the damage done to the Sajuuk in the initial battle of this War.
Noreena nodded to her crewmembers, then strode towards Revkiir.
“You’ve got the watch,” she said with a crisp nod. “We’ve still got about forty-eight hours worth of construction down before everybody’s ready to jump. I wanted everybody pumped up so the work isn’t as dull.”
“Excellent idea, Captain,” Revkiir replied with a grin. “Very good rallying speech, too.”
“Thanks. I prefer to stick to the facts rather than do some stupid inspirational phrase that sounds too forced. I got enough of that crap back in the Academy that I didn’t want to do it to my people when it’s my turn.”
“How wise of you,” the Vaygr officer replied with a mischevious grin, “not to inflict suffering on your fellows. I’ll see you later.”
She flashed Noreena another quick salute, which the Khar returned.
At that, Noreena turned, and strode out of the Bridge with a lighter step than when she’d walked in.
Last edited by Chrome; 23rd Aug 09 at 9:23 PM.
Nice! I see that Jakuul finally got a mention - I noticed that his name wasn't brought up during the Koshiir-Ra trinity debate a while back, despite the fact he is clearly put as some sort of deity in the Homeworld 1 Manual. Speaking of which, that same mention describes the Naabali as 'like the glittering servants of Jakuul himself'; this 'glittering' could be some secret, gold-clad order... or maybe I'm just over-analysing here.
Shame about Nika. Moreover, now she is scared witless of the Garden, what is she gonna do with her new, Progie-designed Swarmer? I would like to see that in action in the coming battle.
Even among thousands of minds, the evil one shall find the quivering prey in the corner.
Translation: Ash will probably find Nika anyway. Then there will be an epic mental duel between Ashoran, and..... Progie?
Nor's speech was inspiring Chrome.
Elson makes a very good point, although it's almost too clear of a choice for it to happen. We shall see though...
What took Rakim so long to make the connection that the somtaaw KNEW where the forth set of scrolls were?? He obviously noticed that the somtaaw knew of an example of Progen Memory metal scrolls from that briefing when they and the bentusi told them the history of the progeniters.....
And so it comes full circle, and I don't think in any Homeworld canon or fanon series anyone has ever gone back to Kharak so It'll be interesting to see what's there...or what's left. Come to think of it Karan is probably the only Hiigaran left alive that has any real memory of the planet....most everyone else is probably either long passed on or senile. I only hope it isn't too traumatic...ah who am I kidding? If she was locked in a padded brig cell in a straight jacket I wouldn't be surprised or blame her.
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