Yup. This is the sequel to Homeworld: Legacies.
Noreena held a tissue to her nose as she trudged into her quarters, ignoring the room’s dimness as she continued on a direct path to her bed. As she passed the recyler slot, she tossed her tissue into it. Then she peeled her bathrobe off. Underneath, she wore a set of blue scrubs that hung on her painfully thin body like a crinkly drape. She kicked off her slippers as she shuffled towards the bed.
Then, with a deep, relieved sigh, she collapsed face-up onto the inviting mattress. She pulled her hand-com out of her scrubs’ pocket and tossed it into the quarters' far wall. It hit with a satisfyingly loud thunk then landed mutely on the carpet. She savored the feel of the soft pillow against her bald head as she closed her eyes.
“Thank Sajuuk I am out of that damn tank,” she intoned feebly to the walls. “One more day with those Qwaardamn plugs and I would’ve been ready to kill somebody. Anybody.”
With an irritated sigh, she struggled to pry her weakened body off the bed, and plodded towards the sound. With a pained wince that went through her entire body, she bent to pick it up. Then she slowly straightened, grimacing all the while. She hit the open line button.
“If it isn’t about Makaan, Karan, or Ashoran, I don’t give a shit,” she snapped.
“I thought you’d be in a better mood by now,” a surprised voice replied back. Noreena recognized it as Pyalun and let out a tired sigh.
“Hey it takes time to get out of a two-month-long snit,” she replied glumly as she leaned into the wall, then slid down it to sit on the floor. “Those Vaygr neurostabilizers should be restricted to commandos looking for a battle-mood elevator. It’s a wonder I didn’t go insane from them.”
“It’s a wonder we survived two months of you being on them,” Pyalun replied with a chuckle. “It’s probably just as well no Crusade got near us to piss you off.”
Noreena sighed. Persuading the other six Vaygr Crusades to break their alliance with Ashoran had proven as fruitful as getting Makaan to wear green for a day: not at all. The Warlord had sent letters, couriers, and even gifts to the respective Crusades’ commanders in a bid to regain their favor. He’d gotten back cold silence. One even had the audacity to send a cloaked Marine Frigate full of Ashoran’s cultist soldiers for a second retake attempt on the Kuun-Lan.
Fortunately Noreena, with her drug-induced crankiness, had picked up on the sensor anomalies the frigate’s cloak had produced, and ignored every insistence that she was paranoid. By the time the cult-run frigate had gotten close enough for the proximity sensors to go off, Noreena had already fired the Siege Cannon at it. The resulting explosion had instantly squashed any further protests with the bite of cold, hard reality.
When all had been said and done, Noreena had saved the Somtaaw from fighting off another boarding attempt. Ifriit had loosened up from his annoyance with her temperamental behavior to thank her profusely. Twenty minutes and one smartass remark from Noreena later, he’d gone back to shooting her cameras snarky looks.
“Hey, you still there?” Py asked.
“Yeah, just reminiscing. I was skaarshit,” she sighed, rubbing her forehead as more memories surged in her mind.
Too skaarshit to even see it. No wonder kiith-Sa kept acting like I’d turned into Mak’s clone.
Now she felt afraid of the depths to which her anger had plunged during those months. She knew she’d have quite a few apologies to make during her time out. A long, loud sigh escaped her lips, alerting Py to her state of mind.
“I forgave you a long time ago,” he replied calmly. “Bad drugs, bad tank. Just don’t get near kiith-Sa for a while.”
Noreena blinked, then sighed glumly as she scrubbed her face with her free hand.
“I’ll deal with him after I’ve had my sleep,” she said tiredly. “Not gonna be easy to apologize for calling him a wimp. I heard Alisair did that once and ended up ignored for a week.”
“He recovers fast. Just give him time.”
“Time I’ve plenty of. Sleep I do not. Catch you later, Py.”
Noreena shut the hand-com off. With another pained grimace, she pushed herself back onto her feet. Then, after several plodding steps, she finally reached her bed, and collapsed onto it. Only a second after her head touched the pillow, she was asleep.
Noreena cracked one eye open to see a hand holding a small chunk of Collision Fudge over her nose. It was even triple-chocolate, her favorite flavor. A smile spread across her face. She quickly recognized her guest—Karan S’jet, her teacher and friend—holding the fudge.
“It’s a wonder my poor abused nose even caught that,” she remarked with a weak chuckle.
“Two minutes, straight from a deep sleep,” Karan replied. “I doubt your nose is as poor as you think.”
Her visitor pressed the chunk into her left hand, wrapping her fingers around the chocolate. Noreena blinked fuzzily for a moment as she woke more fully. Then a thought occurred to her.
“How’d you get in?” she asked.
“Command-level override on the door lock,” the S’jet-Sa replied. “You’ve been asleep for two days.”
Whaaaa? I just fell asleep!
“Ugh. Two days straight? Why didn’t you…?”
“After your living two months in a tank that makes Makaan’s look like a luxury item, ChiefMed decided you needed to stay asleep. He put an entry restriction on your doorway to make sure nobody woke you up ahead of time.”
“Then he got worried?”
“About two hours past his deadline, yes,” the S’jet-Sa replied with a laugh. “You try reading a mind that’s dead to the world and telling ChiefMed she’s alive and well while he’s standing two inches away, hanging on your every word.”
Noreena burst into laughter at that mental image. Then she sobered, wondering when she’d last laughed.
“I’ll bug him for the trouble he gave you, M’Lady,” she replied with a bit of her old mischeviousness.
“Thank you,” Karan replied. “He’s back in Sickbay so you’ll have to hunt him down. How you feeling?”
Noreena pulled herself into a sitting position, wincing as her back protested the sudden movement. She then moved her arms about experimentally; to her surprise she didn’t feel as much pain as she had when she’d fallen asleep. She could actually get up, put her uniform on, and take a walk.
“Better than last time, that’s for sure,” she said. “And not pissy, for a change.”
“Good,” Karan smiled. “Now eat up. You haven’t had anything in two days.”
She motioned to the chunk of fudge in Noreena’s hand. The young woman quickly gobbled it up, smiling gleefully as rich flavors rolled across her toungue. Her stomach rumbled faintly, reminding her of a time when she didn’t have feeder lines jammed into it through her back.
“Mm, been a while,” she said after she swallowed the last bits of it. “Now I remember why I used to like eating. I'm sure my stomach will tell me otherwise once this gets digested, though.”
"I know, I know," she said with a crooked grin. "Liquids and bland foods first. I just don't give a crap where your situation is involved."
“So, you feel up for the Collision?” she asked cautiously. “After a proper meal, of course. I talked the stir-fry place into getting something together for you. Something that does fit the post-extraction guidelines.”
Noreena grinned with relief.
“I don’t think I could sleep another wink,” she replied as she swung her legs off the bed. “Lemme get a sonic and changed first.”
“No problem. I need to change as well. I came in as Lena.”
She undid the front of her purple robe to reveal one of Lena Somtaaw's electrically-hued jumpsuits underneath. This one sported a blue so bright Noreena wondered why it didn't glow in the dim light.
Noreena let out a short bark of a chuckle.
“Hope nobody caught you using the command override as her.”
Karan giggled and shook her head.
"It's the middle of the day, Nor. Everyone's at their posts. Although I probably am getting sloppy now that you mention it. A civilian wouldn't even have authorization to wander around this deck."
“When are you gonna tell Ifriit? He's still gone on you. I'm amazed he hasn't bothered asking me to track down Lena on the databanks.”
“Not yet,” she replied, a shy smile flashing across her face. “It’d completely ruin the fun right now. And I’m waiting for what you just mentioned—for him to realize something is up.”
“Yeah, he’s just too happy. No pressures, no dealing with Vaygr, no worrying about kissing up to…he does kiss up, you know.”
“Of course,” Karan nodded. “Now go on. I’ll see you in a few.”
Noreena stood slowly, taking care to balance herself so she didn’t fall back onto her bed. To her surprise, her legs felt much stronger than she’d expected. She also felt more energetic than when she'd fallen asleep. With a smile, she walked with reasonable ease to her locker and opened its door. A framed picture of a stunning orange and blue nebula shone back at her as she rummaged for her uniform. Upon finding it, she turned and strode into the bathroom, closing its door behind her.
A long sonic shower and quick change into her uniform later, Noreena stepped out. Her mood now felt so much better. She felt as if she could dance the rest of the day off in the Collision.
Lena Somtaaw stood in front of her, wearing a body-hugging jumpsuit of the most intense electric blue Noreena had ever seen. She tossed her long hair over one shoulder and winked at her friend.
“Welcome back,” she said. “It’s great to see you feeling better after so long in that hellhole tank."
Noreena grinned, relieved to find her other emotions surfacing as quickly as those hormone-balancers had faded from her bloodstream.
“Tell me about it. So...shall we?” she asked.
Sighing, Noreena pulled her hand-com off her nightstand and pressed the open line button.
“Commander,” Ifriit Somtaaw-Sa’s voice boomed over the com’s speaker, “Your presence is requested at the Hangar Module. A diplomatic corvette’s just come in from Hiigara and our new guests would like to see you.”
“I’ll be right over, sir.”
“Sorry,” she said to Lena. “I’ll get to the Collision after this is taken care of. It’s probably some admiral or something from the Navy going on about the Crusades. Thank Sajuuk Makaan isn’t onboard right now. He'd kill the conversation just by being there.”
Lena nodded understandingly; the Warlord’s tendency to ignore every Hiigaran except for the two Unbound, and Ifriit on rare occasions, had exasperated everyone. Nobody dared mentioned missing his presence - or if they did, they always made sure to keep their remarks to those within close earshot.
It was enough to have a good-sized Vaygr fleet escorting the Sotmaaw’s First Fleet these days, should Ashoran return with the hijacked Sajuuk. Tensions had remained high despite that victory against the Qwaar-Jet cult leader’s fleet two months ago. Nobody except for Makaan seemed particularly eager to set aside their memories of the Vaygr War. Even so, the Warlord’s popularity was highest among his own people, not the Hiigarans whose trust he had yet to earn.
Unfortunately, the Crusades Makaan sought to sway to his side continued with their attacks on Hiigaran outposts and border stations. These days, even the occasional Somtaaw base came under attack. Fortunately the Vaygr proved easier to repel with a decent-sized fleet than Ashoran’s had; only half of the bases attacked had actually fallen. However, it made for enough bad blood between Vaygr and Somtaaw wherever Noreena looked.
“I don’t remember anyone with an ETA for today, though,” Karan remarked as she dropped Lena's mannerisms and Somtaaw accent for a few moments. “Admiral Soban’s due to fly over with the Progenitor Dreadnaught, and he’ll be bringing ChiefIntel. But that’s not for another week judging from their last transmission.”
“Probably someone jumping the gun or maybe another Intel operative with news, then.”
Karan bobbed her head, then switched back to Lena mode.
“If Ifriit’s going to be there, I’ll skip the meeting. Just say I’m indisposed or something.”
Noreena grinned as she nodded.
“Will do M’Lady—Lena.”
Lena grinned back. She motioned for Noreena to lead the way out of her quarters.
“So if any Hangar techs back away from you…?” she asked, her voice trailing off. Noreena chuckled.
"Eh they know me too well to notice the difference."