The Homeworld Chronicles
It was prophesized that the discovery of Sajuuk would begin a golden time for the people of the galaxy, and while Sajuuk did activate the Eye of Arran hyperspace gate network, the peace that was promised was fleeting at best. The galaxy is a much more complicated place than even Sajuuk himself had believed, and while one prophecy was complete, there were many yet to be fulfilled. There were four gods in the religion that all Hiigarans shared, they had only found one.
Sajuuk, the Great Maker. He whose hand shapes what is.
Qwaar-Jet. The God of Pain and War.
Koshiir-Ra. The Great Protector.
Jakuul. The Librarian.
...Sajuuk's awakening had the exact opposite of the prophesized effect...
It brought a new kind of war with it, not peace.
Operation Hammer fall
Sarum Dust Clouds
Year 115 AHL (After Hiigaran Landfall)
There was an explosion of flak, but the Vaygr strikecraft kept coming in. Assault starfighters, Bombers, and multi-person corvettes, swarmed towards the battered Third Fleet. The Prince of Hiigara's interceptor and gunship squadrons engaged the enemy fighters, and the flak fire abruptly ceased as the fleet's gunners tried to avoid friendly fire. The Prince moved itself forward, the battlecruiser anchoring the entire Hiigaran formation. The once majestic ship was on fire in more than one spot, her hull armor battered by the Vaygr missiles and guns.
"We need to hit that shipyard, damn it! We can't last much longer in this kind of fire; we have to take the thing down so we can get the hell out of here!"
Admiral Naio Paktu's voice reverberated through the battlecruisers Combat Information Center, from where he stood at the cruiser's situation table. The table was a large holographic map of what was going on outside, and Paktu desperately tried to coordinate his failing fleet.
"Order the Vengeance and the Implacable forward, have them present broadsides on those Vaygr frigates!"
The two destroyers moved forward, out of formation with their battered flagship, and presented their eight gun broadsides to the much smaller Vaygr frigates that were now bombarding the Prince with heavy missiles. The destroyer's cannons flashed to light, engaging the wall of Vaygr frigates and taking down two of them with the opening volleys.
But it wasn't going to be enough; they weren't penetrating the enemy shipyard's defenses quickly enough. A Vaygr fleet was going to be here in minutes to respond to the shipyard's distress call, and then it was all over. Paktu needed something, even one ship that could push forward and through this fire and engage the enemy.
And that got him thinking. It was suicidal, but in war, sometimes you have to make the hard calls. There was one man in this fleet he could count on; one man whom he knew just might be insane enough to get this job done.
"Get the Galen-Tel on the line!"
He was rocked forward as he tried to shout out his orders, and a new alarm started blaring as some critical system took damage.
"Order them to push forward and through the enemy defenses and to neutralize the shipyard, at all costs!"
His communications officer stopped for a second, thinking about the order he was giving. Sending a lone frigate forward, through this sort of fire, was suicide. But the orders were orders.
Commander Yalin Hawk saw the heavy missile coming in for his ship, and he nimbly maneuvered the 'Tel around the incoming ordinance. There was a communication coming in, he thought, as the Admiral's orders came across the ship's communications equipment. He spoke with his 'voice', which was actually the ship's comm. Systems.
"This is the Galen-Tel, roger that. Give us whatever fire support you can."
He felt his 'heart' beat a little faster, the fusion reactor at the core of the ship heating up as he pushed his engines to maximum. Yalin Hawk was an 'operator', someone who was wired into a ship and controlled it with his own nervous system. He deftly maneuvered the rather small 'Tel around the Prince's bulk, and advanced past the two destroyers. They bore right down on the Vaygr frigate line, and passed right through before the enemy vessels could turn to respond. Ahead of them an enemy destroyer turned to engage them, and Yalin bore the Tulwar frigate down on the much larger enemy vessel. They fired a brutal fusillade, blowing chunks of armor plate off of the enemy destroyer, before nimbly flying right over the enemy ship.
"Primary target is in sight. Prepare all weapons."
Yalin's voice came from the ship's speakers, as his brain was basically disconnected from the rest of his body. His self-image determined what his voice sounded like, so his computer-generated voice wasn't as low pitched or as raspy as his real voice. But, his crew responded to it all the same. They did as they were ordered, loading missile tubes and preparing their tightly-packed frigate's weapons systems.
The Galen-Tel flew through space that was on fire, flak bursts and fusion missile explosions filled the space around the frigate. Heavy cannon fire flew past the nimble ship, with enemy vessels desperately trying to take down the advanced Tulwar-Class Frigate. The Tel dodged, moving back and forth with the agility of a starfighter. Enemy corvettes and other strike craft came in fast to try and disable the Tel's engines, but Yalin simply opened fire with their point defense weaponry, the CIWS guns filling the space with thousands of anti-fighter rounds and dozens of tiny fighter-killing missiles. Ahead of them was their objective, the enemy shipyard, and they were going to take it down.
"Stand ready…Stand ready…"
Space suddenly cleared up, as the enemy ships ceased fire due to the Tel's proximity to the shipyard. Yalin gave a wicked grin as they got in to point blank range, bearing straight down almost like they were going to ram. He hauled ass on the reverse thrusters and fired the emergency thrusters to blast the ship to starboard. They seamlessly entered the massive shipyard's primary hangar bay, the huge frigate floating above the metal deck plating with an ominous hum. Yalin turned the ship to face the hangar's rear wall, the wall that was almost certainly between the hangar bay and the shipyard's engineering sections.
The Tulwar's main reactor almost redlined as the huge tri-barreled ion cannon fired, ripping into the shipyard's bulkheads and drilling deep into the shipyard's engine banks. As the cannons slowly died out firing there was a massive boom in the hangar bay, like thunder, due to the heat the cannons produced. The Tel's more conventional weapons opened fire, sending heavy slugs through the hole the ion cannons made and into the engines that powered the huge shipyard.
Apparently, one of the armor piercing rounds hit something that didn't agree with it.
Fire exploded out of the hole and into the hangar bay, and Yalin decided that was their cue to get the hell out of there. He turned the frigate to face the opposite hangar door and engaged the Tel's fusion drives, blasting out of the shipyard's hangar bay and back into the equally dangerous warzone that was space. The Hiigaran fleet hadn't managed to move any farther forward, but they didn't have to. The Galen-Tel had single handedly won the battle. And now it was time to get the hell out of Vaygr Territory, before more enemies showed up.
"All ships, all ships, this is the Prince of Hiigara. Fall back to staging area Alpha. Mission Accomplished."
Yalin sent a confirmation back across the communication system, and then dumped every last joule of power into the hyperdrive. A blue 'window' appeared before his sensors, and soon his ship was 'gone', having disappeared into the nether-dimensions that were hyperspace.
Hiigaran Fleet Command
Sarum Fleet Shipyards
"So, try that one more time on me."
Yalin sighed, and stood at rigid attention. This was the second different investigator, the third time now he had recounted his tale for their entertainment. Admiral Paktu himself had testified on Yalin's behalf, but it didn't matter.
"Sir, I just...well, did it. I didn't think about it, I just knew what had to get done and did it."
The inquisitor laughed, and leaned back in his chair.
"You're telling me that with no forethought or planning, no other aid, you managed to pilot your ship at something close to flank speed directly into the hangar bay of a Vaygr shipyard? And once inside, you managed to detonate the shipyard's reactors?"
He folded his hands and put a leg up on his desk, as if a testament to the absurdity of the tale. Yalin couldn't help but be somewhat agitated, he did it, it was done, why did he have to prove it?
"Sir. Yes Sir. I maneuvered my ship like I always have, managed to exploit the only obvious defense weakness I could see, and then used my weaponry to destabilize the shipyard's reactors."
The inquisitor dropped his leg off of the table and drew his chair in closer to his desk, about to speak, when the door knocked. It opened without a minutes hesitation, admitting Admiral Naio Paktu to the room. Yalin stiffened a bit more, and the Inquisitor jumped to his feet and stood at attention. They both said, at the same time,
"At ease, gentlemen."
Yalin relaxed his stance somewhat, and clasped his hands behind his back. The Inquisitor assumed a similar position, and cleared his throat to try and speak before being cut off by the Admiral.
"This inquisition is over. Commander Hawk is cleared of any and all charges. In my opinion, you people need to worry more about the Vaygr and less about our own people. Hawk, you need to come with me right now."
Yalin was instantly at the Admiral's side, and they were walking down the bland corridor towards the docking bays. It was obvious something was on the Admiral's mind, something that was of dire enough circumstances that the Admiral himself was unnerved.
"Sir, what's going on, if I may?"
The Admiral stopped, and ran a hand through his graying hair as he sighed.
"Commander, I don't know what's going on in this war anymore. We received orders from the Pride of Hiigara. You're to report to Fleet Command, immediately."
Yalin had to pause for a second, the weight of these new orders just hitting him. Fleet Command herself had issued orders for an Admiral to get him? What?
"Sir. When do we leave?"
Admiral Paktu turned to look at the Commander, and his dark brown eyes pierced right down into the young commander's soul.
"Commander, we're not going. You are. I'm hereby detaching you from the Third Fleet. The Galen-Tel is being transferred to the Fifteenth."
The fifteenth fleet was one of legend amongst the Hiigaran Defense Force. Founded in battle in the Sarum system, the Fifteenth fleet had been spearheading the counter-attack against the Vaygr. Led by Karen S'jet herself, the Fifteenth had been unraveling the secrets of the progenitors and beating back the Vaygr crusades. Already, the Fifteenth had utterly annihilated one of the Vaygr Crusades when they attacked the Ghenna Asteroid Field.
Yalin simply nodded to his superior, as they continued down the corridor towards the docking bay. They rounded the corner and the heavy airlock doors ahead of them parted, revealing the mammoth docking bay of the Sarum Fleet Shipyards. Dwarfed by carriers and battlecruisers, the relatively tiny Galen-Tel hovered above the metal deck of the bay.
"Admiral, Sir, where will the Third go from here?"
They moved forward into a large cargo lift, the metal skeleton door closing behind them, as the lift started off towards the Tel.
"The battlegroup is going to be conducting operations near Balcora. We've detected a large Vaygr presence there, and our orders are to reconnoiter the area and try and hamper enemy operations."
Yalin's brain started running, and he tried to put a meaning to the place that the name 'Balcora' signified. He had a basic list of most of the Vaygr strongholds in the region, but Balcora wasn't ringing a bell. He expanded his mental search, trying to place the name. Balcora...the Gate to Balcora? That was a religious bunch of crap, what did it have to do with the Vaygr?
"Sir? Balcora? Like, from the scriptures? Isn't it fabled to be a cluster of black holes or something, the 'resting place of Sajuuk'?"
The Admiral nodded, and gave a slight chuckle.
"Welcome to my world, Commander. I don't understand any of this shit either."
The lift bobbed to a halt at the gantry leading over to the Galen-Tel. The sleek frigate sat there, hanging in space, its engines holding her stationary as engineers and technicians readied her for her upcoming mission.
"One day, Hawk, you and I need to sit back and enjoy a few drinks. I still want to know how you ended up as a wirehead, and how the hell you Somtaaw got a Tulwar."
It was an interesting story, actually, Yalin thought to himself. The Admiral extended his hand, and Yalin took it and shook it.
"Good luck, Hawk."
"You too, Sir. One day, I'll take you up on that offer."
He gave the Admiral a salute, and walked down the gantry towards the ship. As his boots clacked against the metal deck, his own mind thought about the story behind his position and ship…
Five Years Ago
Ifriit Somtaaw-Sa stood on the bridge of the Kuun-Lan, the flagship of the Somtaaw fleet. The ship was a legend amongst the stars, having saved the galaxy in her own time from the hideous beast virus. She was almost a century old, but the Somtaaw kept their prized command ship up to date with constant refitting and upgrades. The massive siege cannon that was the ship's primary weapon was long since inactive, the constant upgrades to the ship rendering the gun inert and useless. Many times the idea of removing the cannon had been brought up with their kiith council, but Ifriit always defended the cannon's place on the Kuun-Lan. It was a testament to their own ignorant mistakes, and he wouldn't have his people forget that.
"Honored Kiith-Sa, you have summoned me?"
Ifriit nodded, ignoring the other man's voice as he started out of the huge panoramic windows into space. He let his eyes refocus, concentrating on the reflection of the man in the viewport. He sighed, and turned to face the other man.
"Lieutenant Hawk. I've asked you here to ask for your...advice."
It was an odd situation, that was for sure. To be summoned by a Kiith-sa, one of the leaders of your clan, was an utmost honor. To be asked for help by one...it was unheard of.
"Sir, what can I do?"
Admiral Somtaaw-Sa motioned for him to follow, and Yalin was at his side as they walked. Ifriit wasn't old, like most higher ranking officers he knew, which was different. It was refreshing, too. They walked through the bridge, and up one of the large curving staircases to the observation deck. The Admiral led him to his office, and the doors opened to reveal utter chaos. Paperwork and data chips littered his desk and the floor, and the second the doors closed behind them the Admiral's attitude changed.
"Right. I've been milling over all of this, Yalin. Do you mind if I call you Yalin?"
It was almost comedic; the sudden change in the Kiith-Sa's demeanor, but Yalin couldn't let the immense honor that was this situation pass.
"Sir, of course, Sir. What's wrong?"
Ifriit motioned for him to sit, and Yalin took the seat that was offered, having to move a few clip boards of paperwork off of the seat first.
"Call me by my name, Hawk. Now, here is our problem. Hiigaran Naval Command has called up the Hiigaran Fleet. Each Kiith is expected to contribute ships to the central navy. Kiith Somtaaw is already under-shipped as it is, we can barely keep the pirates out of our own territory these days. It seems like ever since Kuun-Lan lost her teeth no one is taking us seriously. I've been in touch with Hiigaran Central Command, and we've been able to form a compromise. Kiith Soban has given the Navy some advanced frigates, and they need specialized personnel to man them. It's going to be Somtaaws job to provide crews for two of these ships, the Retribution and the Deliverance."
Yalin nodded as the Admiral explained, it was pretty straight forward so far.
"Here is my problem. These ships require huge numbers of specialized technicians. Somtaaw, well, we just don't have them to spare."
Was the Admiral going to offer? Yalin had been trained as a wirehead operator, having the surgeries done to him when he was in the Naval academy. The Somtaaw had no ships that required operators, instead using Yalin as an Information Systems chief for his ability to directly interface with the computers. But this, this could be his chance. His chance to prove his worth.
"You, Mr. Hawk, have a unique skill that makes you extremely valuable. I want to know if you are up for having a command of your own. The Retribution, or Galen-Tel in our Kiith's dialect, can be yours if you want her. You'd serve the Hiigaran Third Fleet for the Somtaaw. She's not a battlecruiser, but being the kind of advanced frigate she is, I'm sure that you'll be satisfied with her."
How could he refuse? This was an amazing opportunity, he was finally going to be able to get out of the computer rooms here on the Kuun-Lan and start the career he always wanted.
"Sir...I'd be honored."
Ifriit clapped his hands together and instantly it was like a huge weight was lifted from his shoulders.
"Wonderful! Congratulations, Commander Hawk."
He tossed two golden rank tabs down onto the cluttered desk, and Yalin quickly scooped them up before they were lost amongst the mountains of paperwork. What had he just agreed to? He was going...away...to new places, new adventures.
"Thank you, Sir!"
Ifriit laughed, before pulling himself out of his chair and back to his feet.
"Don't thank me yet, Commander. Assembled your crew. Your ship is in the main hangar. You ship out oh-seven-fifty tomorrow."
Yalin got himself out of the chair and with the two golden commander's pips in his hands snapped off a quick salute to his Kiith-Sa.
"Dismissed. Go in the name of all Somtaaw, Hawk."
"I won't let you down, Sir."
The Admiral paused for a second, before smiling at the much younger Somtaaw man.
"Yalin, I've had a lot of people say that to me over the years. I've had a lot of people come through right when I needed them most. I know you won't let me down, Son, but stay true to yourself and your own morals. Don't let anyone else pave your path for you, you're the one who is going to have to walk it."
Yalin returned his Kiith-Sa's smile, and turned on his heels to leave the office. He walked out to the balcony that over looked the Kuun-Lans command bridge, and he simply looked down at the dozens of people working diligently at their stations. He ran his hand across the metal of the railing, exploring every imperfection, every tiny little ding that made this ship who she really was. How had the original captain of this magnificent ship felt, those many years ago, when his ship left port for the first time? How had he felt when he led his people from this very bridge, risking everything to try and do what was right?
He didn't know, he probably never would know either. A grin grew across his face as a sudden boyish thrill filled him, he wanted to see his new ship, he wanted to get started right away. Why wait, there were things that needed to be done now! He put his hands in his pockets and with his grin walked over to the lift, stepping past the automatic doors and into its confines.
"Main Hangar Deck."
He turned and gave one more look at the Kuun-Lans bridge before the doors hissed closed, and the lift ferried him off towards the start of his new life. He had heard a little about these Sobani "super frigates," ships that were supposed to be state of the art and more powerful than vessels double their size. He would have to see for himself if the Galen-Tel would live up to those expectations.
The lift came to a bobbing halt, the doors sliding open to reveal the chaos that was the Kuun-Lan's main hangar bay. Starfighters and corvettes littered the place in various states of construction, repair, and readiness, while larger ships floated above the deck and awaited supplies and crew. His ship was easy to spot, it was the single most fearsome looking frigate in the whole hangar. He gingerly approached the impressive looking vessel, taking the time to visually explore the exterior of his soon to be home. The ship bristled with weapons, that was for sure, with what looked like turreted pulse ion cannons on both flanks and numerous other point defense systems scattered across her length. She was most definitely well armed, he noted, as he saw the ship's primary weapons. Protruding from the ship's main body, almost like a snout, were three ion cannons mounted in what looked like a tri-array. That, was impressive. It typically took an entire frigate chassis to mount one of the huge Ion Cannons, and to mount multiple of the weapon you had to step up to larger ship chassis. Somehow, the Sobani engineers had managed to not only fit three of them in this ship, they managed to make it work!
"Beautiful, isn't she?"
The female voice came from behind him, but he didn't turn away from his view of the ship to acknowledge it. He simply spoke out, continuing to admire the vessel before him.
"Yeah, a feat of engineering if I've ever seen one. Still can't believe she's mine."
She laughed at that notion.
"Yours? And just who are you?"
At that, Yalin turned to face the person he was conversing with, only to blink a few times at what he saw. Wearing the colors of a Somtaaw, easily as tall as he was, he had to force himself to look into her eyes and not admire her looks. She was of athletic build, and her skin was one shade off of a healthy tan. Her long brown hair was up in a pony tail, and it was engine grease, not makeup, that covered her face. A tool pouch was on her belt at one hip, her service-issued sidearm at the other one.
"Me? I'm Yalin Hawk, I've been given command of the Galen-Tel."
She paused for a moment, her eyes looking him up and down before she put her hands on her hips and nodded.
"Well, I figured I'd run into you sooner or later. I'm Adris, I'm going to be your chief engineer."
She extended a hand, and Yalin took it in a firm shake. It was unusual to have a female Somtaaw engineer, in fact, when a Somtaaw woman was accepted to the academy she usually was forced into scout piloting, medical, or command.
"Well, Chief, it's a pleasure to meet you."
Chief Adris turned away from Yalin and looked back to the ship, where supplies and crewmen were being loaded onto the oversized frigate. Yalin turned his gaze back to the ship as well, and that excitement crept up on him again.
"So, Commander, do you know what's in store for us?"
Yalin hadn't gotten any more detailed orders beyond prepare his ship and report to the Hiigaran Fleet, so he was at a loss. But, that anxiety, that excitement, came up with the words to speak to her. And after he said them, he was perfectly satisfied with them.
"Honestly Chief, I have no idea. It's a big galaxy, one thing is for sure, we're in for some adventures."