Sunday, 24 November 2019

A History of Homeworld Part 8: The Vaygr War

In this series celebrating the franchise's twentieth anniversary (and the recent announcement of Homeworld 3), I look at the background lore of the critically-acclaimed Homeworld series of video games.

After the return of the Exiles to Hiigara, they began the task of building a new civilisation. During the course of the reconstruction and re-inhabiting of Hiigara, they found historical records stretching back some six thousand years, giving them access to a history they had previously lost all knowledge of. They learned of the First Time, the first strike of the Hiigarans on the Taiidan homeworld and more.

Contained within these records was the secret of the Three Hyperspace Cores, and the knowledge that the First Core had been found by the Bentusi and the Second by the Hiigarans’ ancestors, used to power their warship Sajuuk’s Wrath. After that ship’s destruction, the Second Core was recovered, hidden on the lead evacuation ship to Kharak and lost under the ruins of the First City of Khar-Toba for three thousand years. Then it was recovered and powered the Mothership on its way to reclaim the homeworld.

By the time this knowledge was found, some forty years had passed since the Landfall. The Second Core had been extracted from the Mothership – still in orbit around Hiigara as a shipyard, although its efficacy was falling behind that of the new custom-built generation of orbital yards – and there was now some debate about what to do with it.

The decision fell on Karan S’Jet, who had neurally bonded with the Mothership during the journey from Kharak to Hiigara and at one key point had been blasted with a backwash of energy from the Core. Since that day forwards, she had not aged, nor had her intelligence declined. She lived in isolated seclusion, but at key moments the New Daiamid called on her wisdom. Karan’s decision was that the Core should be publicly displayed in the capital at Asaam Kiith’sid, to remind people of their past, but it should not be used again save in the utmost need. This decision – which the Galactic Council was relieved to hear – was honoured.

Makaan, warlord of the Vaygr Reaches.

Decades passed. The Exiles’ population grew, passing 300 million (the same as on Kharak before the Genocide). A new Hiigaran federation took shape, several worlds being colonised and adding their economic and industrial might to that of Hiigara itself. The peace that had endured since the rumoured Beast War continued.

But then rumours arose of a new threat arising in the Eastern Fringes of the galaxy. The Vaygr, a nomadic race of warriors and pirates, had unified with several former Taiidani Imperial factions to form a new fleet, a fleet that now struck worlds with overwhelming force. For several months the Vaygr rampage continued unabated through the Eastern Fringes. Worlds fell to their advance, industrial centres were converted to churning out more warships for their fleet and those Vaygr clans which remained independent were soon subjugated. Hiigaran agents ascertained that the Vaygr leader was a warlord known as Makaan, a charismatic, intelligent and arrogant warlord with a formidable strategic vision. Makaan also referred to himself under a new title: “Sajuuk-Khar.” The Chosen of Sajuuk, who would fulfil the vision of reuniting the Three.

Analysing the speed of Makaan’s advance confirmed what this had hinted at: Makaan had found the Third Core, sparking the long-prophecised End Time.

Only the fact that the Vaygr fleet was not yet large enough to challenge Hiigara directly spared the Exiles. They put into operation an emergency contingency plan: Hiigara’s fleets were pulled back to defend the homeworld. The Second Core was restored to the Mothership and then Far Jumped to the Great Derelict at Tanis, where the Hiigarans had established a secret shipyard and redoubt. There the Mothership would be reconditioned and rebuilt into a larger, more powerful vessel, one whose power plant could operate the Second Core at maximum efficiency. This ship would become known as the Pride of Hiigara. And Karan S’jet would once again command it.

The Pride of Hiigara in orbit around Hiigara's Angel Moon.

The War
The Vaygr learned of the Pride’s construction and struck with overwhelming, total force. They overran Hiigaran outposts right across the Inner Rim and their fleets converged on Hiigara. A secondary fleet attacked Tanis, destroying it, but not before the Pride was able to jump clear. The Pride returned to Hiigara and rendezvoused with Captain Soban, who was escorting the crew of the Pride to join the flagship. They fought off an attempted Vaygr interception and left, with Soban setting out to locate Makaan’s flagship and the Pride to rendezvous with a mobile shipyard.

Its forces bolstered by the shipyard, the Pride received intelligence from the Bentusi directing them to the Gehenna Asteroid Field. There the Pride discovered the Oracle, a Progenitor device constructed tens of thousands of years earlier. The Oracle interacted with the Second Core, transporting the Pride to the Karos Graveyard, now revealed to be the remains of a colossal Progenitor starship. The Pride, no longer under Fleet Command’s control, moved through the Graveyard towards what used to be the Progenitor ship’s engineering section, where a powerful Dreadnought-class vessel was located. The Oracle reactivated the Dreadnought, but in the process inadvertently triggered an attack by a Keeper, a Progenitor security vessel. The Keeper was neutralised and the Dreadnought recovered.

An attack on a Vaygr staging area proved that the Dreadnought’s systems were not yet fully online. Captain Soban’s recon fleet arrived and confirmed the location of Makaan’s headquarters at Balcora Gate, but Soban was captured before he could transmit the coordinates. The Pride pursued but was intercepted by a fleet of Keepers, which threatened to overwhelm its fleet. The Great Harbor Ship of Bentus directly intervened and self-destructed to obliterate the Keepers once and for all. The Pride recovered the First Core from the ruins and proceeded to space station Thaddis Sabbah, where they rescued Captain Soban and learned of the location of Balcora Gate, an immense Progenitor hyperspace gateway located close to the black hole cluster at the very centre of the galaxy. Beyond the gate lay a tremendous Progenitor starship of unparalleled power: the Sajuuk itself.

At Balcora a final great battle took place and Makaan was defeated, but not before revealing he had activated an ancient Progenitor doomsday weapon, consisting of three planet-killer platforms which even now were approaching Hiigara. The Three Cores were united and Sajuuk was activated. Karan S’jet transferred to the Sajuuk and jumped in one bound to Hiigara. The planet-killer platforms were intercepted and destroyed before a single one of their weapons could be fired at Hiigara.

The remaining Vaygr forces, deprived of the power of the Third Core, fled. The war was over.

The Age of S’jet
The combination of the Three Cores on the Sajuuk and the integration of Karan S’jet into their energies resulted in a great transformation in galactic affairs. Karan and her ship traversed the galaxy and found the greatest secret left behind by the Progenitors: the Eye of Aarran, a hyperspace gateway rivalling Balcora. But this gateway was linked to hundreds of others, great free-standing structures simply left hidden in open space. The Great Hyperspace Network was reactivated by the power of the Three Cores, allowing every race in the galaxy to Far Jump. New trade routes opened, new paths of pilgrimage and exchanges of knowledge began, and a new golden age began.

The Age of S’jet began. Under Karan’s guidance and the Hiigarans’ leadership, the galaxy would take a step forward towards everlasting peace and tranquillity…until the day that a third great conflict would come to pass.

But that is a story that is still to be told.

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