- "We...live!" — The Beast
The Beast is a bio-mechanical virus that is able to use both organic and inorganic material to spread its matrix and melds both organic and inorganic material into one living organism which it controls.
The Beast was unwittingly released by Kiith Somtaaw when one of their mining ships, the Kuun-Lan, recovered an artifact containing a small portion of it during the second mission of the single player campaign of Homeworld: Cataclysm, in the area of space designated Sector 112 near Hiigara. When the Somtaaw researchers were studying the artifact aboard the Kuun-Lan, The Beast awoke and started infecting the ship. The science team then realized its nature and begged the ship's bridge to eject the lower section of the ship where the artifact was being studied and where the infection had spread, which eventually formed the core of the new Beast Mothership.
The artifact, where the Beast was originally, came to the galaxy onboard the mysterious extragalactic vessel Naggarok. Although exact origins of The Beast are unknown, according to the Naggarok's ship logs, two theories are possible: the ship ran into it somewhere in the space in-between the two galaxies they were traveling, or their hyperdrive was a little too powerful and the ship accidentally entered a dark dimension of hyperspace where The Beast originated while the ship was in transit.
The Beast caused great damage to the galactic civilization before the Somtaaw managed to stop it by destroying the Naggarok and the Beast Mothership.
- "You can't unleash that ship on the galaxy. Do you know what you're about to do?" — Somtaaw Fleet Command to Imperialists repairing the Naggarok
Nearly one million Hiigaran years prior, the exploration vessel Naggarok arrived in the Galaxy using an experimental hyperspace drive of incredible power. When the vessel caught the Beast infection, the onboard crew realized almost immediately the potential for destruction if it took control of the ship. The drives and communication systems were completely scuttled, so that even with the assimilated knowledge of the crew, the Beast would be left confined to the vessel as they could not be repaired without external help.
Their sacrifice was however undermined by their own skill at ship design. The destruction of those two critical systems caused the ship to automatically launch an emergency signal beacon as part of its design, a beacon that carried a small portion of the Beast. This beacon is what Kiith Somtaaw found.
For the period of time since its arrival, the Beast has somehow been able to listen in on the radio signals emanating from the various worlds in the galaxy, perhaps using the hull of the entire ship as a massive antenna. Presumably it has been able to learn a lot during this time.
When the ship is finally found by a modern civilization, in this case the Taiidan Imperialist Faction, the entire craft is more or less intact, except with some superficial damage to the outer fins. It isn't revealed until the last portion of the game the other two abilities of the craft. Firstly, the ship doesn't rely on traditional propulsion to drive itself in normal flight. Instead it uses an inertialess drive that sustains a lowpower hyperspace field around itself that permits it to travel at incredible sublight speeds far exceeding even fighter-class ships or high speed exploration probes. Its maneuvering ability is likewise unmatched and the craft has no concern for acceleration/deceleration effects, being able to start and stop immediately at will.
Its second ability was probably installed in lieu of a proper weapons loadout. A large node in the bow of the craft is a phased disassembler array. The device can forcibly deconstruct any form of matter down to its component atoms and use it to administer repairs to the vessel. The Beast uses this as a weapon, locking onto an enemy ship and deconstructing it along with the crew. However while the device is in effect, the craft cannot move as it would terminate the absorption process. The Naggarok may only move again once the process is done.
The ship's drive is vulnerable to EMP blasts, though it takes only seconds for it to recover. It is during these moments of weakness, along with its aforementioned "feeding" immobility, that would allow the Somtaaw fleet to rain enough firepower on it to destroy it once and for all.
The ship's name is most likely derived from the word Ragnarok, given its phonetic similarity, as well of choice of letters in the name.
- "Kuun-Lan parts! We want beacon brain! Give us data or we take data with your parts!" — The Beast
The entity's command of Kushan-la is based on vocal and textual analysis from various sources. While competent enough to state its thoughts, the disjointed nature of its speech is easily noted by anyone. Also, the Beast is unable to maintain a single vocal profile by itself when directing transmissions to non-Beast vessels, alternating between a deep masculine voice and a raspy female one several times as it speaks. It sounds a lot like the Kuun-Lan's bridge officers.
Subverted vessels retain their original voice profiles but the Beast taint is apparent; words are spoken with a telltale unhiigaranly rasp.
Its writing ability is composed of short deliberate sentences, with composite words being separated. As such, the Beast would render "The missile carries a polymer warhead containing a dense payload of the Beast that discharges upon impact" as "Self carried in polymer war head medium. War head medium keeps self safe from explosion. Medium sticks to enemy parts when missile hits". It should be noted at this point that the Beast appends suffixes to all ships. Fellow Beast vessels as "-Self", groups as "-Selves" and any unsubverted ship as a "-Part" or "-Parts" for a group. For example, "Command self is pained! Command self must flee from parts!".
The largest collection of Beast entities, the Naggarok vessel, is capable of speaking in perfect English, but still with the aforementioned alternating vocal profile. It has presumably gained this ability by spending its million Hiigaran years of isolation listening in to communications chatter from the galaxy around it, going so far as to state that "We know you better than you know yourselves".
- "Then be destroyed and join us anyways!" — The Beast
Despite being an aggragate of simple cells, the Beast is anything but a simple being. It shows innovation, tactical and strategic prowess and a very rapid rate of assimilating new information.
- "You are what all life is to us - food!" — The Beast
The Beast's motivation can be summarized by its own simple words: "We'll harm and consume". Much like viral entities here on Earth the Beast seems intent on simple consumption of eligible matter (in the Beast's case this is not limited to organic life forms). The Beast is looking to multiply endlessly through assimiliation of ships, life forms and technology.
- "In return for their help, the ones known as Imperials will be given half the galaxy, an ample return for repairing this ship's systems and leading my children back to me." — The Beast
While its motive is simplistic, the Beast is uncannily shrewd in achieving it. It puts emphasis on absorbing powerful enemies as fast as it can (as seen when its first target after the Kuun-Lan escaped the initial battle site was to go after a Bentusi Exchange). the Beast is quick in absorbing data and using it for its own ends. It was quick to get a leverage on the Imperialist Taiidan forces by exploiting their desire to return to the glory days of the empire and get revenge on the Higarans. The Beast shows its true intents towards its Imperialist allies when, at a moment of pressure it admits the Imperials, like any other life forms out there, are nothing more than food for its consumption. However its willingness to withold attacking the Imperials in order to further its own goals shows a remarkable strategic thinking. Likewise, the beast shows tactical prowess. In one instance it uses an assimilated Republican heavy cruiser to lure away the escorts of a refugee convoy, leaving the unarmed transports an easy prey for its Cruise Missiles. At another, it uses the Clee-San's advanced sensor array to deactivate a Sentinel ring around a Hiigaran scout base, opening the way for a surprise attack. When the Beast tried get the Kuun-Lan in order to retrieve the information carried by the alien beacon pod, it assimilated the Caal-Shto and used it to try and lure the Kuun-Lan straight into the maw of the Beast Mothership. If the Kuun-Lan wasn't swarmed by Imperialists, this could have ended badly for the struggling Kiith Somtaaw.
Infection only requires that the Beast entity come into contact with a suitable surface, with any ship being compatible. Once done, the Beast begins an extremely rapid process of breaking down the ship materials in order to construct more of itself, and when it comes into contact with organic matter, it likewise breaks them down and reassembles the cells for use as living biocircuitry. The Beast interfaces this living computer system into the ship's electronics, merging them into one. It is apparent however that the new system still retains the memories and thoughts of the original crew, making this a truly horrific way to continue life (that is why the Bentusi was particularly afraid of the Beast: they would not die, but neither can control the ship, nor can communicate, trapping them inside for eternity). This however allows the Beast to rapidly assume control of the new vessel, as opposed to using trial-and-error to find out what everything does.
Direct physical contactEdit
Ships that come into direct contact with an infected vessel risk subversion if they are not properly engineered or trained to withstand an infection. Examples including the Somtaaw mining tugs and Worker units. Without the proper precautions, a mining tug will immediately acquire the Beast entity when attempting to ram it, and a Worker will pick them up when it tries to salvage one. Unmanned ships such as the Somtaaw Leech are immune to direct infection as they are controlled remotely and therefore present no organic matter to infect.
Most heavy-class ships in the Beast fleet grow specialized beam emitter nodes all around the vessel. When activated, they generate a charged particle beam that the Beast entity can ride on and onto a target. The charged nature of the beam allows it to jump to neighbouring ships, depending on how much mass the ships have. Several fighters can be infected with one beam shot, compared to one or two frigates. As the beam operates at relatively short ranges and is instantly generated, it is impossible to avoid the weapon. Only vessels that have implemented the necessary safety protocols can ride it out. Unmanned ships are instantly destroyed by the beam as they present no organic matter to infect.
Drawing upon schematics and designs available from captured engineering data, the Beast conceived a spacefaring Cruise Missile carrying a warhead densely packed with the Beast entity. The warhead was a polymer-like substance which would protect the payload up to the point of impact. Once the missile itself had rammed through the victim ship's hull, the warhead would finally break open, and the Beast entity could begin the process of subversion. If the hull could withstand the impact, it wouldn't matter either way as the Beast entity can work just fine from outside of a vessel.
The cruise missile itself is equipped with a corvette-class fusion drive that allows it to reach speeds almost comparable with a fighter-class vessel, and grants it high maneuverability. The navigation and guidance equipment can track its target over a significant distance, and may remotely receive new data from a commanding Beast vessel. The entire package weighs in at 490 tons.
Armoring of the missile is relatively weak and as such can be disposed of easily, but usual Beast tactics are to attack from multiple vectors and in massed groups, vastly diminishing the chances of interception. The weapon's engineering permits rapid and cheap mass production, making this a common tactic for a Beast fleet to consider.
The tip of the warhead is organic in nature, allowing it to slip through the charged field of a Sentinel wing, effectively rendering forcefield technolgy useless.
Beast disposal protocolsEdit
Initially, no ships were safe from Beast infection as it was an entirely new threat that no one knew how to deal with. This was later dealt with via development of new biohazard sterilization procedures stemming from stolen Imperial Taiidani bioweapons research and the implementation of ad hoc emergency purging protocols onboard ships.
Workers can be upgraded with an Infection Vaccine that allows them to safely engage an infected vessel for salvaging, by sterilizing the Beast entity forcibly. This allows a ship that would otherwise have to be abandoned to be returned to active duty. The technology and protocol for this came from the aforementioned Taiidani research.
The purging protocols mentioned are quite brutal. It involves flushing decks under threat of infection with surplus superheated plasma from the fusion drives, instantly immolating everything in the area including crew, unshielded equipment and the Beast entity itself. This is based on the rationale that it is infinitely preferable for the crew to be instantly killed than to spend an eternity as part of a Beast biocircuit, and that it would be better to lose a few decks than the whole ship.
Subsequent refinements in the technology and protocol resulted in all traces of the Beast being destroyed in the years succeeding the events of Cataclysm
- Due to The Beast's ability to assimilate ships, it bears a striking resemblance to the Borg from Star Trek.
- Another resemblance is to the Tyranids from the Warhammer 40,000 mythos, shown in the quote: "You are what all life is to us - food!"
- The Beast also show many parallels to the Replicators of the television series Stargate SG-1. The Replicators have a tendency to board enemy ships and literally eat the craft until it is almost unstable; they assimilate captured ships into their fleet and "replicate" themselves using the resources gathered from ingested ship materials.
- The Beast strongly resemble the Flood from the Halo universe, though it converts both living and non-living matter into new biomass to spread its presence; both also essentially operate under a hive mind culture.
- Basically, the Beast is the Virus trope, which of course also covers viral transformation. As you can see there are many instances of similar horrors with the same capabilities.
- In the mission where you must collect the alien object, the Turanic Raiders will proceed to take it back to their carrier. If they do so the game ends, this however would have probably drastically altered the events of the Cataclysm era.