As you may have noticed, I left something hanging back in Wrath of the Gods.
Let the journey continue.
STORY IN PROGRESS
Prologue: Wrath of the Gods - New Era
Chapter 1: Shadows of the Ancients
Chapter 2: Accelerando
Chapter 3: Dreadnaught
Chapter 4: Forced Engagement
Chapter 5: Shattered Peace
Chapter 6: Digging Deeper
Chapter 7: Sudden Assault
Chapter 8: Rapid Developments
Chapter 9: War
Chapter 10: Myth and Reality
Chapter 11: Looming Crisis
Chapter 12: Crisis Point
Chapter 13: Invasion
Chapter 14: Ancient Enemy
Chapter 15: Conflicts
Chapter 16: Defeat
Chapter 17: Encounter
Chapter 18: Gemini
Chapter 19: A God Moves
Chapter 20: Divine Intervention
Chapter 21: Omega
Interlude: The Premonition
Chapter 22: Exiled
Chapter 23: The Great Beyond
Chapter 24: Parallels
Chapter 25: Equivalent Exchange
Chapter 26: Strategy Seven
Chapter 27: Revelation
Chapter 28: The Road to M51
Chapter 29: M51 Revisited
HOMEWORLD2: INTERSTELLAR ODYSSEY
PROLOGUE: WRATH OF THE GODS – NEW ERA
Karan’s passing shook the Hiigarans down to their very cores, for she had done so much for the people she loved, the place she called home.
It had all begun with an urgent situation regarding the Mothership’s computers, whose woes were solved with Karan’s brave volunteering to become its living core. Neither she nor her people had expected a tumultuous struggle for survival to follow. The destruction of Kharak forced her to unite the Exiles’ spirits as she led them in a war across the galaxy, a war for Hiigara.
A war for their Homeworld.
Even after Hiigara was reclaimed, many troubles remained. Countless lives were lost in the subsequent Imperial invasions, a result of the galactic civil war that had fractured the old Empire. The Galaxy’s very existence was then threatened by the techno-organic virus known as the Beast.
And then the End Time arrived.
The Vaygr put all previous wars to shame as they swept across the Galaxy, invincible and unstoppable with their Third Core. Once again, Karan took up the task of uniting the Hiigaran people in an epic voyage through the most ancient and unexplored regions of the Galaxy. Her courageous leadership allowed the Hiigaran Navy to triumph both at Balcora and the final battle over Hiigara.
Yet the Eye of Aaraan, thought to be a tool of peace, turned out to be the spark in a new war that would decimate much of the known Galaxy. Nevertheless, Karan persevered, unlocking the secrets of the Three Gods and giving her all to save both the Galaxy and her people.
Karan had passed away peacefully, her final wish fulfilled. After more than a century, she had finally returned to the place of her birth, the only other place she treasured more than even Hiigara.
Kiir Sjet, another hero in the Wrath of the Gods, decided to have Karan buried in a special location in the great desert – the location of the Khar Toba and the Guidestone. That place was no more though, having been completely erased by the Taiidan bombing save for a few scraps of cracked metal.
The funeral was observed with the heaviest of hearts, with delegations from the surviving Galactic cultures paying their last respects from Kharakian orbit. There were the T-MAT, the Nalthorans, the Tobari, the Taiidan, and many more.
With the ending of the funeral, the various cultures returned to the task of rebuilding all that they had lost. Comparatively, the Hiigarans were more fortunate – at least they still had a planet to return to. The other races could not, for their homeworlds had been irreversibly altered by the now-dead Neo-Beast virus.
Still, the rebuilding was harsh and difficult even for the Hiigarans. Cities were rebuilt painstakingly from scratch, infrastructure was restored, and native wildlife carried onboard the Legacy of Kharak were released in the hope of re-establishing the ecosystem.
But the Hiigarans remained undaunted by the uphill task they faced.
Karan had left them a new home.
Now they would rebuild it.
Onboard Grand Shipyard Sajuuk Khar, high orbit over Hiigara:
The Grand Shipyard was probably the greatest orbital superstructure ever built in Hiigaran history. Just five years ago, the Hiigaran people were struggling in what was deemed the darkest time since the Homeworld War. Now, this pinnacle of shipbuilding technology showed what Hiigarans could do when they stood united in crisis.
Sajuuk Khar, or the Chosen of Sajuuk, was far more massive than any Mothership ever built. It was larger than even the monolithic Tanis Base, which had been restored and now served as a military base in the Tanis Ruins. Now the Hiigarans would no longer face the difficulty of building vessels larger than a shipyard class.
The mighty construction facility had been completed with much fanfare just a week ago, and now it was about to birth its maiden vessel.
Admiral Eefrit watched the decorators scurry about hurriedly as they struggled to add the finishing touches to the ambience of the viewing hall. A very special ship was going to be launched today, and to tremendous fanfare as well.
<Feeling relaxed, Eefrit?> Yuno’s voice came in as she shimmered into existence before him. The smartly-attired admiral bowed deeply in welcome.
“Of course I am. The past few years have been just awful, with so much rebuilding work and the problems regarding security,” Eefrit replied coolly, “We’ve really come a long way since then.”
<I agree wholeheartedly,> Yuno nodded, <A pity though that they still haven’t figured out a way of downloading me back into a cloned and restored body.>
“These things take time. Give them a few years, I’m sure they’ll find a way in the end,” Eefrit reassured, only to have Yuno roll her eyes sceptically.
<By the way, Eefrit, there’s been a few updates from Hiigaran Intelligence,> Yuno reported, <Remember the Plaz Nebula?>
“It’s still very clear in my mind.”
<Well, they’ve finally managed to cobble together enough resources for a proper expedition there,> Yuno said, <The problem is, they found no wreckage belonging to the Mythra whatsoever.>
“No wreckage? Who could have moved it?”
<That’s the problem,> Yuno sighed, <Their sensors picked up a trail of space time distortion linking both the Plaz Nebula and the Gate of Hara, which seems to have been repaired and reactivated as recently as last month.>
“Last month?!” Eefrit bellowed, “Now THAT’S too near for comfort.”
Yuno nodded grimly before continuing.
<Given the circumstances, Intelligence has many reasons to believe that a scout Mythra fleet must have come in via the Gate of Hara, salvaged the wreckage, and warped back out.>
“So we could be facing an invasion anytime soon?”
<An invasion is likely, though their initial experience with us will make them more careful the next time round,> Yuno commented, <So we’ll need to be ready when the time comes.>
“That’s why we’re here, remember?” Eefrit grinned as the main doors swung open. Representatives from the various Kiith, as well as distinguished military personnel, strolled in smartly in anticipation of the launch.
“Eefrit!” Soban yelled as he walked up to the Admiral. Both friends shook hands warmly, having not met once since the end of the war. Rebuilding took up too much time.
“It’s good to see you again,” Eefrit gushed, “I guess you’re enjoying your latest promotion, General Soban?”
“I always thought Captain suited me better,” Soban replied, “General sounds less glam and heroic.”
Both of them laughed heartily and went on to chat casually. Yuno’s hologram walked off, smiling at the guests waving at her.
Then the lights dimmed in the hall as the main event beckoned. Spotlights flashed onto the massive ship before them, painted in the blue Hiigaran colours and sporting the beautiful emblem of the Angel Moon on its top.
“Fellow officers,” Kiir greeted as he walked up to the main viewing panel, “I thank you all for coming to grace this event.”
Applause reverberated through the viewing hall as the crowd gave Kiir Sjet their warmest welcomes. Kiir bowed before them and went on with his speech.
“Five years ago, we were embroiled in a terrible war, a war that took many things away from us,” Kiir began, “The war took many brave Hiigarans, many ships, even our homeworld. It also took the life of our great Fleet Command, Karan Sjet, who gave her life so that we may continue to live in peace. I now implore you all to observe a minute’s silence for Karan, and for the many lives lost in that war.”
Kiir bowed down sadly, as did the rest of the crowd. Memories of the horrible war flashed before his eyes – the sacrifice of the Bentusi, the attack of the Progenitors, the rise of the Neo-Beast… All these moments, locked down for many years in the deepest recesses of his mind, rose once more to haunt him.
But then there was Karan, who braved so many dangers so that her people could live. He remembered her brave exploits with the Sajuuk, when she joined in the Alliance assault against the Qwaar Jet, her duel with the Mythra, and her graceful strikes in the Final Battle.
Kiir calmed himself, eclipsing the rest of the bad memories with the good ones, like the miracle of Hiigara’s restoration. That was one event that still brought tears to his eyes even today, where Karan used her last strength to rebuild the whole of Hiigara.
Kiir looked up as the minute ended, the audience paying close attention to him once more.
“Now, peace is upon us and the restoration of Hiigara is almost complete. This is cause for celebration, but we must remain on our guard,” Kiir emphasised, “Intelligence reports that the ancient Mythra, which we defeated in the war, may invade this Galaxy in the near future. As a sentient race of this Galaxy, we must be prepared for the worst, so that tragic sacrifices will be unnecessary.”
At this moment, the might ship powered up its engines for the first time. Gasps went through the crowd as the Sajuuk Khar released its tractor beams, and the new ship drifted away on its own power.
“Today marks the beginning of a new era, of a new Hiigaran Navy,” Kiir spoke, “Through this new Navy, we will avoid the mistakes of the past and protect this homeworld, this Galaxy, for now and forever.”
The new warship soared away at high speed, its sustained hyperspace field letting it glide through space effortlessly. The crowd broke out in tremendous applause as the new Horizon II class battlecruiser moved off to join its predecessor in the distance, the original Horizon.
As the applause reached a maximum, Kiir gazed out at the Hiigaran Navy and the Koshiir Ra gathered around the Grand Shipyard, smiling as he looked father into the distance, where the distant Kharak and Karan’s final resting place was.
And so begins another chapter, another page turned in the book of Hiigara.
The beginning of yet another journey.
HOMEWORLD2: INTERSTELLAR ODYSSEY
CHAPTER 1: SHADOWS OF THE ANCIENTS
“Peace is an impressive achievement, but it is not a natural state.”
~ Source unknown
Onboard the Sajuuk Khar, high orbit over Hiigara:
“I don’t get it,” Kiir Sjet muttered after hearing Yuno’s report, “How in Kharak’s name did the second fleet arrive with the Gate of Hara non-functional?”
<To be honest, I have no idea,> Yuno replied <I have done some analysis on the Mythra’s Timespace Drive, and while its speed and range almost put it in the same league as the Far Jumper, there is no way they could have jumped from outside the Galaxy using such a slow faster-than-light drive.>
“We know that the first Mythra fleet was powered down just outside the Northern Galactic Outskirts, which explains why they were able to respond so quickly to the Gate’s activation,” Eefrit commented, “Perhaps the Mythra are using some sort of FTL gate or catapult to fling their ships to our Galaxy.”
“That is a possible theory. But if that were the case, why haven’t the Mythra thrown everything at us yet?” Kiir asked doubtfully, “We just fought a galaxy-wide war and are still recovering from our losses. Even a simple computer should be able to figure out that now would be the best time to strike.”
<In the light of Eefrit’s words, I think I may be able to come up with a possible explanation,> Yuno began, gesturing for the rest to listen to her. Kiir and Eefrit nodded to indicate they were paying attention.
<Thank you. Now I could venture a guess that the Mythra have a FTL system for travel between galaxies, as suggested by Eefrit, rather than my initial conjecture that they used the damaged Gate of Hara via a miracle of some sort. Perhaps it may be possible that the FTL system is inefficient in its use of energy, allowing the Mythra to send only one fleet every now and then.>
“If so, then there’d be no way for them to mount a proper offensive,” Kiir added, a hint of relief in his voice, “I hope that’s what you were trying to mean, Yuno?”
<I’m afraid not, Kiir, though I too hoped that would be the case,> Yuno replied sadly, <Remember that the Gate of Hara has been repaired and reactivated as recently as the previous month.>
“Oh crap,” Eefrit muttered as he realised what Yuno was getting at, “The Mythra sent a scout fleet in to repair the Gate of Hara and salvage the remains of their first fleet. After which, they will…”
“…Use the Gate of Hara to jump in their main forces,” Kiir finished, the relief in his voice now replaced by worry.
“Then there’s no time to lose,” Eefrit exclaimed as he got up and prepared to leave, “I will personally lead the Hiigaran Navy in to destroy the Gate of Hara immediately.”
“Perhaps that is best then,” Kiir agreed wholeheartedly, “Yuno, there are no Mythra forces in this Galaxy as of now?”
<For now, all Mythra forces have jumped back through the Gate,> Yuno reported, <But we don’t know for sure when they’ll come again.>
“Very well then. Eefrit, do what you can. May Sajuuk watch over you.”
Eefrit saluted solemnly and walked briskly out of the viewing hall, where the launch party was still taking place.
<Kiir I have to ask you something,> Yuno started upon seeing that Kiir and her were alone, <I’ve been getting rumours lately of some new project that was of you and Kro’s devising…>
“I’m afraid that’s top secret, Yuno,” Kiir replied apologetically, “All I can say is that we need to compensate for the loss of the Sajuuk.”
<Would the Horizon II class not be sufficient?>
“The Horizon II just features the new Quantum Phase reactor core as a source of power,” Kiir explained, “That along with a few improvements to the ion and pulse cannons. There’s nothing else revolutionary about it.”
<But judging from the Horizon’s performance against the Qwaar Jet…>
“The Qwaar Jet is different from the Mythra in many ways,” Kiir reminded, “Remember the time when the Horizon was used in our first encounter with the Mythra?”
<That near defeat was because the Horizon wasn’t exactly in tip-top shape…>
“Even if it were, we still need a ship that can somehow come close to substituting the Sajuuk.”
<Kiir Sjet, building such a ship will create more political tension in this Galaxy. While our relations with the other Galactic races have been cordial due to the previous war, there has been growing criticism about the Hiigaran Republic trying to act as a superpower in charge of this Galaxy.>
“Yuno, another war is coming,” Kiir explained calmly, “Surely you haven’t forgotten all the losses and casualties we suffered due to our technological inferiority?”
“The project will go on as planned Yuno,” Kiir cut her off, “Try to remember that the Mythra are a far greater threat than Kaark and the Qwaar Jet. To depend solely on Koshiir Ra and substandard technology would be suicide.”
Yuno remained silent, but Kiir indeed had a point there. Their victory five years ago had been almost entirely a matter of luck – they had two Gods against Kaark’s God, along with the support of the entire Galaxy. While the Neo-Beast forces greatly outnumbered them, the fact that they were still largely based on current Galactic space technology made it possible to defeat them.
The Mythra would be quite a different story. Not only did they have superior technology comparable to that of the Progenitors, but they probably also had superior numbers. If it had been the Mythra they had been fighting rather than the Neo-Beast five years ago, then they would most probably have suffered a terrible defeat.
“Why aren’t you two enjoying yourselves, it’s a party for goodness’ sake!” General Soban walked up to Kiir and Yuno, “It’s a good idea to just relax while the peace lasts.”
<Quite true, Soban,> Yuno agreed brightly, <Though it will be most peculiar for you to be dancing with a hologram.>
“Who cares?” Soban replied as he proceeded to “grab” Yuno’s hand. Yuno laughed and played along, trying her best to follow Soban’s lead as they moved onto the dance floor.
Kiir watched as the crowd stopped to gawk at the sight – a General and a hologram dancing and laughing their way across the hall. He smiled and walked towards the exit.
There was much to be done if peace was to be maintained.
Onboard New Tanis Base, Tanis Ruins:
The engineers went about their work tirelessly. If all went well, the new ship could be launched for tests within a few days’ time. However, many of them wondered why the construction had to be done in a place as remote and isolated as Tanis. After all, there was nothing much different about this new ship, except that it was larger than a battlecruiser chassis and featured many never-before-seen devices.
Only Kro Manaan knew why the project had to be completed at Tanis. As Kiir had explained to him months ago, the other Galactic races would not take kindly to the fact that they were building a warship heavier than the awe-inspiring battlecruiser chassis.
In fact, the new Qwaar Jet Cor class, as it had been codenamed, would be the first dreadnaught class vessel to be built in the Galaxy. Its mass and capabilities would easily put it in the same league as the only other dreadnaught class vessel, the Progenitor ship Gatekeeper of Sajuuk.
While the Qwaar Jet Cor class was being built in response to the future threats of the Mythra, it was very possible that the other Galactic races would assume it to be a Hiigaran weapon for dominating the Galaxy. Therefore it was crucial that the prototype Qwaar Jet Cor class was built in absolute secrecy so as not to ruin diplomatic relations and spark off an arms race.
Kro Manaan opened the communications channel on his computer as he observed the massive ship resting in the dock. Since they were running on a tight schedule, Kiir would query him on the ship’s progress on a weekly basis.
[Kro, you there?]
“Kiir, I’m receiving you loud and clear,” Kro responded, “How’re things going back at Hiigara?”
[Sajuuk Khar just launched the first Horizon II class battlecruiser, and they’re getting ready to launch two more over the next few days,] Kiir replied, [How’s the progress with the Eidolon?]
“Eidolon will be ready for testing in about two or three days’ time,” Kro replied cheerily, “I bet you can’t wait to lay your hands on this baby.”
[I’d love to, but I’ve put someone else in charge of the Eidolon,] Kiir admitted, [General Soban will be commanding the ship.]
“Excellent choice, if I might add,” Kro praised, “He’s probably one of the craziest captains I’ve seen around. Eidolon seems to suit that ‘outgoing’ personality of his.”
[Well, since the Eidolon’s progressing so well, Soban and I’ll come over on the day after tomorrow. Will that be fine?]
“Of course, of course,” Kro replied, “It’s been a few months since we last talked face to face.”
[I’m also looking forward to catching up with you,] Kiir chuckled, [See you in two days’ time then. Kiir out.]
Kro closed the channel and returned his gaze to the monolithic Eidolon. He could almost feel sorry for any ship bold enough to stand up to the Eidolon's might.
Onboard the Pride of Hiigara, high orbit over Hiigara:
In the past, the original Mothership became an orbital shipyard after fulfilling its task of delivering the colonists to Hiigara. The Pride of Hiigara would have suffered a similar fate, but the construction of the Sajuuk Khar meant that it could continue to serve as a flagship and command centre of the Hiigaran Navy.
Yuno warped into the computer system after the glitzy night over at the Sajuuk Khar. She hadn’t expected Soban to be such an excellent dancer. That was probably going to be one of the more unforgettable moments in her life.
She decided to get back to her job of monitoring and processing intelligence updates from scout ships throughout Hiigaran space. Yuno opened the communications log and quickly scanned through the messages within, classifying them according to strategic importance.
Then she came to the last message, whose nature caused her jaws to drop.
It was a message from the Vaygr.
A message asking to establish diplomatic relations.