The Beast is a unique form of bio-mechanical virus that originated within the realm of hyperspace, and can repurpose any known conventional material or organic matter to spread its cells. Its existence was unknown for many millenia, until Kiith Somtaaw discovered a Beacon Pod and accidentally unleashed the virus on the galaxy.
Almost one million years prior to the events of Homeworld: Cataclysm, the Naggarok travelled through hyperspace from a nearby dwarf-galaxy. The Naggarok was using a form of hyperdrive that was so powerful that it was able to send the Naggarok across a large area of space from the dwarf-galaxy to the much larger Galaxy.[notes 1]
During this hyperdrive jump, the Naggarok exited hyperspace with an unknown organism growing on the hull. The explorers aboard the Naggarok seemed to quickly realize that the organism they picked up was dangerous and they needed to contain it within the Naggarok. However, their attempts to prevent the Beast from escaping was undermined by the fact that their ship was designed to eject a Beacon Pod if the engines and communications equipment were destroyed. Unfortunately for them, the pod contained a infectious mass of the Beast cells - and that was the last that anyone heard of the organism.
From that point onwards, the Beast would live aboard the two remnants of the ship it infected and listened to every single radio communication across the galaxy it now inhabited, waiting for someone to discover the Naggarok or the Beacon Pod to reawaken it from ancient slumber.
Despite being a viral organism, the Beast had a very high level command of Galactic Common — an in-universe trade language used by all races — and was fully capable of stating its thoughts. However, its ability to talk to others was compounded by the disjointed nature of its vocals. The disjointed nature meant it was unable to maintain a single voice at any time, alternating between a deep masculine voice and a raspy female voice throughout many of its conversations. This suggests that its communications were pieced together from log recordings and possibly victim memories.
While the Naggarok was able to communicate with anyone in near-flawless English, due to its million years of intercepting radio communications, the Beast residing in the Beacon Pod was not able to create basic sentences. Instead, this form of the Beast chose to select specific words and creating composite sentences consisting of those words.
The Beast residing in the pod made use of various prefixes to denote different types of vessels, presumably as a result of assimilation of other ships to gain basic English skills. When referring to itself, it would use the prefix -self: when referring to a group of ships infected by itself, it would call them -selves. Any vessel which was not infected would be referred to as parts. For example, if the Beast Mothership was being attacked by an enemy, rather than saying "Command Ship under attack!", it would instead say: "Command Self is pained! Command Self must flee from parts!"
Ships that were previously infected by the Beast still retain their original voice profiles, but slight hints of Beast infection are apparent, with all words spoken with a rasp.
Despite being a simple aggregate of cells, the Beast is anything but a simple virus. Due to solitary confinement within the ship it infected million years ago, it has intercepted all radio communications made by every race living within the Galaxy and has been able to discern every single event which has occurred throughout history. Its existence even predates the arrival of the Progenitors, who only arrived in the galaxy 10,000 years prior to the events of Homeworld. From this, it knows everything about every single race, even going as far as to claim that "it knows more about the races than they know themselves".
As well as having accumulated a vast wealth of knowledge of other races, it has extremely high levels of intelligence and cunning. In its own words, it wants to assimilate as much eligible matter as it can to acquire all knowledge of the universe. By multiplying this way, it can acquire even more knowledge, allowing it to manipulate and understand every race in the universe, providing it with a tactical mind of a super genius. Since it wants as much knowledge as possible, it puts a massive emphasis on finding very powerful enemies as quickly as possible. This emphasis can be seen from the events shortly occurring after its reawakening: in only a single encounter with Kiith Somtaaw, it was able to gain the knowledge to send a large fleet to attack a nearby Bentusi Exchange, knowing that the Bentusi would have knowledge of many other races, for which it can achieve its goals.
Its high level of intelligence can also be seen from its simplistic methods of manipulating the Taiidan Imperialist Faction into repairing the Naggarok, convincing them that, by doing so, they would be able to defeat the Kushan and return the old Taiidan Empire to its former glory. The Imperialists only discover that they were being manipulated after the Beast was pressured into an admission, when a Bentusi Exchange appeared in the midst of battle, thus abandoning their bargain with the Beast, as the Imperialists were led to believe that the Bentusi had already been defeated. At that point and onwards, the Beast didn't directly attack the Imperial Fleet, but the Naggarok did focus its attention on and consumed the Imperialists' ships, one by one.
In several incidents through the Beast War, the Beast showed a very high level of tactical prowess. In an early incident with the Taiidan Republic, who were evacuating the Fornax System, it lured away a powerful Heavy Cruiser escorting the Colony Ships and infected it. Using the infected cruiser, it sent a false distress beacon to the Colony Ships that it had been escorting, causing the remaining escorts to be sent towards the beacon: these escorts were later infected, leaving the entire convoy fleet to become an easy target for an attack consisting of Cruise Missiles.
At some unknown point, the Beast was able to trap the Caal-Shto and subvert it. After it was subverted, it was sent to find the Kuun-Lan and retrieve the Beacon Pod, so it could find "itself". This tactic was employed so that the Kuun-Lan and the entire fleet would be taken into the grasp of the Beast Mothership: had the fleet not been swarmed by the Turanic Raiders and the Taiidan Imperialists, this would have likely ended badly for them.
Later, the Beast would use the subverted Clee-San to disable an entire Sentinel web surrounding an unknown base in the Far Reaches Sector, allowing it to launch a large attack against the base to assimilate more knowledge.
Due to the viral nature of the Beast, no entity or vessel is considered to be safe from its destructive nature. Virtually every ship constructed (with the exception of Leeches[notes 2]) is a suitable surface for the Beast to subvert and use in its goals to acquire knowledge. As soon as a ship comes into contact with the virus, the Beast begins a very rapid process of breaking down the ship materials in order to construct more of itself. When it comes into contact with organic matter, this is broken down and the cells are reassembled for use as living biocircuitry.
Even though the original crew of an infected vessel are subsumed into the Beast, they continue to live, since their memories and thoughts still exist. This horrific existence is the reason why the Bentusi are so afraid of the Beast: since the Bentusi are Unbound, they are one with the ships they are attached to, meaning that, if the Beast were to infect them, they would die, but not be dead, and have no control over their ships, causing them to be trapped within their ships and their "own bodies" eternally. The Bentusi say: "The Devourer does not kill us when it tries to take our ships. It leaves us in place, but corrupts our being. We die, but we are not dead. We would be trapped, slaves within our own bodies eternally."
This method of assimilating biomass to infect ships means that the Beast is able to assume control of an infected ship almost immediately, rather than simply testing every aspect of a ship to find out which parts need to be infected.
The Beast is able to infect many ships at once through the use of a high charged particle beam. The cells of the Beast will ride this particular beam and immediately attach themselves to the target ship. Due to the nature of the beam, this allows the beam to jump to any neighbouring ship, but there are limits to how much it jumps: heavier ships will take longer to be infected, meaning that the beam will spend more time infecting a single frigate, reducing the potency of the beam and possibly saving other ships from the infection. This is directly contrasted to basic fighters, which are relatively light weight, possibly resulting in whole wings of fighters being converted with just a single shot.
However, the beam operates at very short ranges and is generated instantly. This means that an uninfected vessel will have absolutely no warning when going near infected vessels and cannot evade the beam in any way. The rate of infection can be reduced by running a charge throughout all vessels and ships who have employed the necessary safety protocols can survive the infection.
The Beast infects, analyzes, copies and enhances any ship design it can that it believes will help defeat its enemies. It has done so from a wide variety of factions giving it variants of a broad mixture of ships.
It has two main unique ships of its own design:
From Kiith Somtaaw: it acquired
- The Acolyte and Acolyte Composite Vehicle
- The Recon
- The Sentinel
- The Worker
- The Processor
- The Hive Frigate
- The Multi-Beam Frigate
- The Ramming Frigate
From Taiidan Imperialist Faction it stole:
From older Kushan technology, it absorbed:
From the Turanic Raiders it stole:
It's worth noting that if one looks more deeply into the game files, it is possible to find files for the following ships: Beast-infected Kushan Missile Destroyer, Beast-infected Kushan Ion Cannon Frigate and Beast-infected Taiidan Ion Cannon Frigate. None of these ships are present in the game, but the infected Kushan Ion Cannon Frigate can be seen in the animatic prior to the 17th and final mission - Naval Base Aplha. It remains unknown why those ships were never 'implemented' into the Beast fleet inventory.
Preventive Procedures and Protocols
In terms of space combat, fighting the beast called for unconventional tactics and protocols. Most fleets who would encounter beast fleets would quickly realize that at some point in the battle with the beast, ships can and will get subverted through Cruise Missiles or through the Beast Infection weapon. The very nature of the infection weapon has lead to most fleets adapting a more unconventional form of warfare in order to contain or to prevent the spread of the infection within the decks of ships or to stop the total subversion of the ship and the fleet.
Emergency Jettison Protocol - When the beast first emerged from the hangar module of the Kuun-lan, it was spreading across the lower decks of the ship at an alarming rate. Because of the highly compartmentalized nature of the ship, the captain of the Kuun-lan made a quick decision to eject the lower half of the ship to the vacuum of space in order to save the rest of the ship. This protocol was not originally used for such an encounter, but was used to stop the spread of on-board fires, boarding actions, or for retrofitting the ship; it would also not have been viable for more conventional designs, such as the Imperator Carrier.
Engagement at maximum range - The next preventive measure that was instructed to pilots and combat personnel during the first few days of the beast war was to engage any infected vessel from maximum range since the beast infection weapon does have a limited range. Moreover, pilots of fighters, corvettes, and frigates are instructed to keep a good amount of distance from each other since the beast infection beam can jump from one target to another that are in close proximity, therefore causing a chain reaction in which multiple ships are subverted.
The Naar Directive - In case of an infection weapon or a cruise missile striking a capital ship, the ship would vent out super-heated plasma on the deck of the ship that was hit by the infection weapon in order to stop the total subversion of the ship. Of course, this would cause a considerable amount of damage to the ship and would kill the crew that was on the deck, but it was better than spending an eternity as bio-circuitry turned against your own people. However, for this to happen, the ship must be compartmentalized. Most capital ships from the Homeworld era have still fallen victim to the beast infection weapon despite these measures, such as the Taiidan Heavy Cruiser, the Taiidan Carrier and the Kushan Carrier.
Self-destruct Protocol - Most ships that are smaller than a destroyer cannot afford the luxury of venting super-heated plasma to their decks. In case of the infection weapon hitting the hulls of smaller ships, the pilots of these ships would need to act quickly to scuttle their ships before the beast can totally subvert the control systems of the ship.
Purging the Beast
In the early stages of the Beast War, no ships would be safe from the virus. Kiith Somtaaw later discovered that, at some point, the Turanic Raiders acquired samples of the Beast and transferred them to a hidden research base under control of the Taiidan Imperialist Faction. The Imperialists were attempting to graft the samples onto living subjects to take control of the virus and use it as a living weapon system. Despite these efforts failing (due to the innate intelligence of the Beast), they did manage to develop sterilization procedures that would be useful on a larger scale.
It can be assumed that Kiith Somtaaw developed a full vaccination from this knowledge, which later made all ships immune to the infection and allowing its eradication from the galaxy.
- The Beast is actually a codename given to the virus by the Ship Engineer aboard the Kuun-Lan. The real name of the virus is currently unknown. The Bentusi though refer to it as The Devourer.
- During Mission 02, it is possible for the Turanic Raiders to capture the Beacon Pod and hyperspace away. While this results in mission failure, this would have radically altered the events of the Beast War.
- In many ways the Beast is a biological-virus version of the Star Trek Borg. Like them, it assimilates and adapts anything it can and has a hive mind. Comparisons can also be made with the Zerg from the Starcraft series, as they can infect buildings and vehicles as well as lifeforms.
- Beacon Pod data
- Engineer's Report 7.2
- Communications with the Beast Mothership
- Communications with the Naggarok in Mission 14
- Events of Mission 05
- Events of Mission 17
- Events of Mission 07
- Events of Mission 10
- Communication with Fleet Command for Kiith Manaan
- Analysis of the Clee-San after its Beast signature is lost
- Communication with the Bentusi
- Ship Engineer's Report 1.2
- Recommendations by the Tactical Officer
- Homeworld: Cataclysm Multi-Player
- Analysis of the tapes stolen from Gozan IV
- End Game cutscene