Federation-Apocalypse Session 102b – Less Then Ruthless Predation

   Meanwhile, Ruth Gelman was nearly eight hundred credits ahead… That was quite a sum, but there were a LOT of interesting things going on in Kadia!

   It wasn’t really enough to build an army of cyber-augmented mammoths though, no matter how much fun the idea seemed likely to be.

   What kind of exotic services could a nice Ashkenazi find for herself in Kadia? Things that would get Pops’ goat up a bit, but not enough to make him lock her in the apartment?

   She could – and did – get herself a bit of Cyberware – but it wasn’t like a medical implant and an adrenal booster were anything major, even if they were only normally available in Tokyo in Battling Business World.

   Lets see… Pops wouldn’t approve of magic lessons, but she wasn’t sure that she did either -even if it did look a lot more like some odd branch of technology than what she’d think of as “magic”… Nothing but the ritual stuff – which even the people in Kadia seemed to see as something mysterious and exotic – seemed to involve anything in the way of mystical entities.

   Psychic Power Lessons might be neat, but she wasn’t sure about the way that most of them seemed to involve “Witchcraft” and “Pacts”. There wasn’t anything that was free of course – but having a magical price stated up front in lieu of time, effort, and money, was just a bit disturbing. Still, the people over in the UK seemed to manage without any serious difficulties… A bit more research would be in order first.

   Of course there were any number of other exotic services available – induced shapeshifting, genetic modifications, dragon-riding, lycanthropy (seriously? wasn’t that supposed to be a curse or something?), various personal services (including some that were pretty obviously grossly immoral), guided dimensional tours, big game hunting (including mammoths, dinosaurs, any mythical monsters), whitewater rafting, vacations in faerie, sailing, visiting adventure novels, martial arts training (ranging from the utterly mundane to the extremely mystical), indentured services, combat training and live-combat exercises, education, vehicle piloting, art lessons, dance, contests, ice age survival, handicrafts, gambling, trips into the wilds where there were no legal protections, recreational dueling and mutual hunting games, and many more…

   Well, at least the live-combat exercises were all basically mundane enough. Everyone came back in the morning, just like at home, so live weapons and such were the order of the day.

  So was the betting, and most of the contests – although the fact that you could bet or spend yourself into indentured servitude was a bit exotic. Still, you’d have to be pretty stupid or reckless to do that what with the regular allowance everyone got just for living in the place…

   Quite a lot of the competitions offered good prizes too – and it looked like she was a lot more used to combat than the other excited first-time visitors.

   Heh. She’d been getting a bit bored with “blow the crap out of people”, but “blow the crap out of people for prizes!” was a lot better!

   Hm… It looked like most of the battle-games were pay-an-entry-fee and the top placers got bigger or smaller prizes depending on how big the entry fees and the number of contestants were. There were all kinds… Individual events, small-team events, large-team events, entire group against the computer… Capture the flag on acid – multiple flags, each worth points based on strategic value. Matches lasting until one side had died or surrendered. Supply caches, some with magical items that couldn’t leave the arena. Matches which allowed magic and psychic powers. Side bets, personal bets… it was a free-for-all at the high end. The grand prizes ran up to things like… Mecha, Starships, and Fighter Planes? Those were some pretty impressive prizes!

   Impressive entry fees for those levels too… Better to go for the ones that offered cash to start. Owning her own fighter plane would be pretty cool, but what would she actually do with it?

   Outside of outrage Pops of course. He’d thought that a CAR would be bad enough…

   Hmm… There were a few new “high stakes” battle-games that someone called “Kelsaru” had set up… Those had big prizes and relatively low entry fees – but the first few to get taken out wound up on twenty-year slave-indentures and (in some games) the grand prize winner got to claim one of them. Supposedly that was to simulate the “fact” that – in “most dimensions” – “death was permanent”.

   That still seemed pretty unlikely to Ruth. After all, she’d died at least a hundred times – and it was pretty obvious that death had never been “permanent” for HER!

   Actually, Kelsaru had set up the high-stakes games mostly for minor troublemakers: not only did quite a lot of the refugee-kids from the Linear Realms belong to mutually hostile gangs, but a fair number persistently misbehaved in ways that had long since been educated out of Core children – and that Kevin hadn’t anticipated. While Kevin would have found a twenty-year term a bit much for such petty misbehavior, a small chance at such an indenture would probably seem fair enough to him – and a steady supply of new indentures would suit his Thrall-gathering purposes as well. Of course, the ones who were entered for misbehavior weren’t eligible for any prizes – but paid entrants and their prizes had been an afterthought anyway.

   Hey, wait! Fighter plane games! She’d been wondering what doing a bombing run was like ever since her big sister had left to join the Israeli Military! It looked like doing a real combat mission would be pretty expensive though… Renting a simulator for a training program was moderately expensive – although it looked like it was provided free if you were in a military training program – but the virtual-reality games were almost as good, and quite cheap. It looked like Virtual Reality would have to do.

   Still, the high-stakes games seemed like they would be REALLY exciting. A real test of her abilities!

   Hm… This one looked good! A 100-credit entry fee, slots for 50-60 contestants, free-for-all rules, first three losers got 20-year indentures unless they could pay their way out, first prize 4000 credits and a choice of one of the three new indentures, second place 2000 credits, third 1000 (unless, of course, you were in the game as punishment for something, in which case the prizes were like 400 and no servant, 200, and 100).

   It looked like – since she’d never played before – she’d be in the “newbie” category (meant to ensure that massively-skilled experts didn’t just keep claiming the prizes and beating up the new kids) for the first few games. Most of the entrants seemed to be street gangers from this “Linear Realms” place, and were incredibly slow and fragile compared to her!

   That was kind of irritating really – no challenge and she hated to be underestimated – but it would mean that she’d hardly have to worry about losing any of the first few games!

   Hm… If she entered, there would be a game open almost immediately!

   She’d need the permission of a parent or guardian if she was under fourteen (only fourteen?) – but she was just past sixteen now! And Ms. Jenkins used to say that the last woman standing wins, even if she’d lost all her limbs!

   She’d show these kids what Battling Business World tough was all about! It looked like she might be able to enter three matches today!

   She did.

   Given her skills in stealth and acrobatics, boosted reflexes, and expertise with pistols, her strategy was pretty simple; evade initially, do some fancy maneuvering to get behind her opponents – and plug away while they were flatfooted! She could rely on her regenerative talents to handle enough hits to make sure that SHE wouldn’t be going down to early… She could afford to let the crowds thin a bit before moving in for the kill.

   There was no reason not to exploit her natural advantages!

   It got rougher towards the end in each game… There was a lot of hiding and ambushing, but her enhanced vision and ability to sniff out her opponents stood her in good stead.

   Too much luck in the first one; she only managed to take third place. She’d underestimated how willing to take risks the other kids were, and two of them managed to beat her score.

   She won the second match – but she’d underestimated how rapidly she’d exhaust her healing powers playing three games. Thank goodness she’d gotten that booster implant.

   The third game she had to play a lot more cautiously – but she was really getting the hang of it, and managed to pull out a second place win. After all, after enough of the others had gone down, she could run massive risks; if she lost, she’d only be out a hundred credits and the rest of the day until she came back.

   That wasn’t entirely satisfactory, but hey – at least she seemed to be putting out a consistent top three performance! And scoring a full 6700 credits even after deducting the entry fee!

   Er… And an indenture-slave.

   She hadn’t really thought about that. She’d thought it was something a bit less serious than a twenty year indenture somehow (OK, so she’d skimmed the section of the rules about losing; she hadn’t really seriously considered the possibility) – and, apparently, the right to do all kinds of things to them. Wow.

   She was presented with a choice of… a seventeen-year-old boy, a fifteen-year-old boy, and a sixteen-year-old girl. All Linear Realms ganger kids.

   Er…

   What if she didn’t pick one? Slavery was just WRONG. She hadn’t really thought about it before, but just where the heck had Pops taken them all?

   Anyway, it looked like… all three would just be sold or put to work, and she’d be credited for one-third of the total price unless she turned down the money.

   Well, she could just take one and let him or her go. There was no rule about THAT. She was pretty sure that Pops wouldn’t approve of keeping one, even if they had bet and lost… and for once she actually agreed with him. It wasn’t right to enslave people when your people had been Target #1 for centuries.

   Gah… Picking one… She picked the youngest. The older ones should have known better!

   She told the official (another youngster actually) – one had come by the next morning, after the early casualties had resurrected – that she intended to let the kid go after he was delivered.

   The “official” made a great point of fitting the boy with a smartcollar, having him stand there, and listing off a lot of options for have him upgraded with genegrafts or modified – with computer illustrations. He offered to turn the kid into pretty much any kind of anthromorph Ruth might want, to cyber him, to teach him some magic or psionics, or (for that matter) to fix him, before saying “and you can easily afford any of those options, even with the mandatory reversal-fee for later on! What would you like done with him?”

   He seemed to find watching the kid squirm a bit amusing – although he might have been watching HER reactions as well. She hadn’t realized just how far you could go in Kadia in transforming people… It was more powerful then Medication was in Battling Business World! Maybe she could get Fire Breath and Claws after all! Or a scary Number anima like Ms Jenkins! It looked like that – and all kinds of other cyber – was well within the possibilities available in Kadia.

   She was really considering slugging the official too – but she’d realized that it would probably be useless: violence in non-designated areas just wasn’t productive in Kadia!

   Oh well. Perhaps the “Official” was just trying to teach the kid a lesson? He’d certainly succeeded in boggling her a bit… Some of the available enhancements were a bit of a shock for someone with a conservative jewish upbringing! Especially the ones for pleasure-servants…

   Good sense, massive embarrasment, and a fairly good upbringing still led her to free the kid.

   The “Official” gave the kid a brief lecture on how lucky he was to get picked out by someone who simply wanted to let him go free – and sent him on his way.

(Official) “That was kind of you. He’s a bit young, so I thought I’d give him a bit of a shock – although I must admit, the expressions on their faces are always funny when they see some of the options an owner has available.”

(Ruth) “Yeah, yeah. My dad would lose it if I bought a slave home, anyway.”

   She wasn’t about to admit to being weird enough to have ethics…

(Official) “If you wish to continue in the high-stakes competitions, we’re going to have to be advancing you to the next category for competition… Three wins in a row says that you’re either too good of too lucky for this level of competition – and it looks to me like it’s too good”.

(Ruth) “Sweet.”

(Official) “Since you seem fairly nice, I’ll advise you; if you do wind up losing – which becomes increasingly possibly as you advance – the odds are good that the winner will be male, since better than 80% of the competitors are, and that he would pick you unless you have another indentured servant to substitute. The consequences of that aren’t really too serious either, but I get the feeling that you might consider them so.”

   Odd. Something about the “Official” reminded her of someone she knew, but she just couldn’t place it for some reason.

   Didn’t seem like one of the local fey.

   Oh Lord! Could it be that Unicorn Pervert?

   Nah… She was pretty sure she’d recognize HIM.

   Nobody she’d met – just the general style somehow.

   Pops was going to have some explaining to do! After all, no slaves – and he had two kids who kept calling him “Master” and did whatever he told them to! She’d heard the parakeet story! And, unlike Sophie, she wasn’t at all skittish about expressing her displeasure!

(Official, noting that Ruth was getting a bit hot under the collar) “The category upgrade will be showing up tomorrow Ms Gelman. Should I put you down for an advance sign-up? And is there anything else I can help you with at the moment?”

(Ruth) “Uh, yeah. I”ll be back tomorrow.”

   She’d have to practice her sharpshooting in the meantime! the more winning she did, the fewer the kids who got enslaved! Once she got on top she’d see about changing a few of those rules!

   Ruth went to have a talk with her father… He’d said that he’d been trying to deprogram Sandy and Illona after some cult – come to think of it, a cult that was supposed to be based in Kadia – got to them, but he’d certainly been accepting their services!

   She’d have to devote some time to hunting down this cult!

   She went to have a little talk with Sandy and Illona.

(Sandy) “Yes Ma’am?”

(Ruth) “Hey Sandy, how did Pops meet you two?”

(Sandy) “We were assigned to his service on his first visit to Kadia!”

(Ruth) “Wait, what? How’d this happen?”

(Illona) “Apparently he was investigating the bodyguards Lord Marty had assigned to Abigail, and came through the tree. Since he’s employed by Amarant Solutions and was becoming involved in Manifold work, we were assigned as aides!”

   “Lord Marty?” Wasn’t that the perv who crank called Mom that one night? Eww!

(Ruth) “Did he ask for this?”

(Sandy) “I believe he inquired about Lord Kevin’s services as a contractor in some dispute with Mrs Jenkins, but I believe he accepted the offer of some aides. He had some odd idea about deprogramming us!”

   There was “Lord Kevin” again. Was that something more than some weird local cult? She’d heard an awful lot about Lord Kevin in Kadia. His name was attached to all sorts of things.

(Ruth) “So… is it true you worship this “Lord Kevin”?”

(Sandy) “I know a few who do! Illona worships the Goddess Freyja, and Lord Kevin says that he believes that there is a True Creator or Creators, but that the True Creator has arranged everything to make sure that no one can really know who that might be. Lord Kevin made Kadia though, and he’s a lesser god, and I certainly respect him!”

   Well, she’d heard about false gods in synagogue, and this “Lord Kevin” definitely sounded like one! She was really in the lion’s den here! Just the way she liked it! It looked like Pops did something cool for once! Maybe this was some kind of training exercise! She had to wonder why they didn’t all worship Kevin though…

   Besides. “Kevin”. What kind of a name for a deity was “Kevin”? Was he part of the pantheon of Harry god of Beer, Chris, Debbie the Cake Goddess, and Barbie goddess of beauty?

(Ruth) “Why don’t you all worship Kevin then?”

   They certainly seemed friendly enough. There was no reason not to ask them.

(Sandy) “Lord Kevin says that we can if we want, but that it’s kind of silly; he’s giving us all the power he can and bringing us back if we die and everything anyway, because that’s what we indentured ourselves to get!”

   Now that was just WEIRD. What kind of god – false or not – would say that? Either he was faking it or he had more power than he knew what to do with… Wait, indenture?

   Oh, right, that was a part of the deal she’d heard at the arena, wasn’t it? No, wait, those were indentured for twenty years, but didn’t get a load of power for it. Illona and Sandy’s deal had to be something different.

   They were perfectly willing to show her the contract – and what it featured – on the local computer network.

   She had a look out of curiosity – and possible espionage…

   It wasn’t very believable. The benefits were impossible, and the multi-century term of service – and the Soul-Bond – were even worse. Still, she’d seen what Sandy and Illona could do – and Kadia was full of examples. There wasn’t much choice EXCEPT to believe.

(Ruth, more than a bit incredulous) “And anybody can get this?”

(Illona) “Er… Only those who are willing, young enough to adapt properly, and are stable when traveling the dimensions.”

   Sandy and Illona were not about to try and explain Phantasms to Ruth. That wasn’t their job; if Gelman wanted to explain, he could. Besides… they weren’t entirely sure what not having a “soul” meant. Was having aspects linked across the dimensions really the true definition of a soul? Perhaps “Phantasms” were just on time-share? They weren’t entirely sure that they weren’t having roles as phantasms elsewhere…

   Ruth had some idea of what they were dancing around anyway. There had been indications – and the information was pretty freely available in Kadia. It was rare for a phantasm to notice the difference between themselves and the ensouled – but she’d noticed that she could adapt to new dimensions a lot faster than her father or Sandy and Illona could. Pops leaving everyone else behind in Sesame Street had been a big clue as well… It was no shock to her to realize that she was more fey – mutable, able to blend in with everything, and essentially immortal because she’d reset or reappear eventually no matter what – than human. After all, that was just like everyone else back in Manhattan! She couldn’t even remember most of them! The number of people from there that she really remembered could be counted on one hand…

   Sandy and Illona were waiting quietly to see if she’d need anything else; she was, after all – and phantasm or not – their master’s daughter.

   She took a hard look at them… It was bad enough that they considered themselves property – but it was worse that they’d chosen it and seemed to regard it as being worth it! Those were some REALLY good powers there, but were they really worth indenturing their souls over? She certainly wouldn’t have – although she had to admit that she was an independent sort…

   She’d REALLY have to talk to Pops!

Federation-Apocalypse Session 102a – The City of the Damned

   Elsewhere in the Manifold events continued to unfold:

  • In the Crusader Kingdoms, the remaining city-sieges had been broken. While it was still too dangerous to farm without the protection of the Knights, regular patrols had allowed the peasants to begin exploiting the lands near the city walls again while parties gathered supplies. With the help of the locally-recruited Thralls, the natives were pulling through and the Thralls or “Fey-Gifted” were starting to become accepted local fixtures.
  • In Star Wars ATE and Ryan were working with Kuat Drive Systems – and some Thralls – to try and build a ship to counter the Hellstorm while (simultaneously) he tried to deal with the fact that a lot of his simulacra had run off and with upgrading the defensive architecture in the Linear Realms – which wasn’t going very well. Of course, soon enough, even an engineer as distracted as Ryan was would shortly realize that Kevin had – upon request – sent him fifty youngsters with exactly the specialized talents he’d asked for, and therefore must be recruiting many, many, more.
  • Also in the Linear Realms, Arthur and the Arrancar had arrived, gotten their own assessment of the local situation underway, and were starting to make plans. Fortunately, quite a few of the local syndicates were perfectly willing to get paid to back him up.
  • In Core, Jamie and A’ikana were still assisting in Death’s debriefing. The man might not have a lot of direct military information – but he was a goldmine of history and details that went a long ways towards filling out their picture of the opposition.
  • In the New Imperium, the Hellthunder and Revan continued to gather their forces – infusing defunct ships with enough demonic energy to seize control and get them started on slow self-repair – gathering them into a massive fleet. Sadly, the countless millennia of warfare in the Star Wars universes had left a virtually limitless array of derelict ships drifting about the galaxy.
  • The search for where Ealor’s missing children was ongoing, and was resulting in some fairly extensive maps of the Anime Realms – regions of the Manifold that had gone almost unmapped for some time; few of the visitors there had been particularly well organized.
  • In Kadia, the rescue operations, refugee housing, and recruiting operations were in full swing – although the fact that many of the young refugees were from the underbelly of the Linear Realms, and thus were street kids, gang members, and worse (problems that had not existed in Core for many centuries) had been putting a bit of stress on things. Fortunately, Kelsaru, as a dragoness, was more than capable of dealing with some obnoxious children – even if setting up games that allowed the young gangers to settle their differences with violence was likely to have it’s own repercussions later on.
  • In Core, Kevin’s latest stunt had drawn some special attention. Kevin had participated in moving a world. While that was frightening indeed, it was still within the known capabilities of Openers. Then, of course, not so long afterwards, he had moved another. That was a shock… Moving a world out of Core should have left him drained and unable to violate the laws of nature any more in Core for a considerable period. The first, subtle, attempts at inquiries were partially deflected – the Thralls had queried Kevin about how to respond, and had been told to simply state that Ryan had provided most of the power the first time while Kevin had only observed, and so he’d been able to move the second world – but any more shenanigans would solidify doubts into certainty; the horizons of the possible had expanded once again. (It was, perhaps, a trifle unfair to blame Ryan – but Kevin felt that he had a certain amount of “Blame Credit” to draw on with Ryan in any case).

   Meanwhile, back in Necropolis, Marty and Kevin were still dealing with Hoxin… Apparently the notion of having his fill of Power – and the possibility of more benefits to come – was something it found quite attractive.

(Hoxin) “Very well then, what is it you wish to know? You mentioned something about seeking advice in exchange for energy…”

(Kevin) “Well, we’re looking for a realmgate – a weak point leading to another world. Our information is that it should be somewhere around (provide whatever details we’ve got). I can provide you with additional power – and perhaps a longer-term energy source later on if your advice proves good – and in exchange, we’d like to know how to get there with relative safety compared to an unguided trip. If you’d like to come part of the way, you’re welcome to do so; I have plenty of power available.”

(Hoxin) “Well that is troublesome indeed.”

(Marty) “Well, if it helps, we do mean “Relative”! A few battles along the way are only to be expected.”

(Hoxin) “Do you have some means of shielding your life energies? The further you can get without attracting everything you come across, the better you will fare.”

   Kevin could, indeed, provide a variety of shielding-spells relatively easily… He shielded their life-forces, their minds, and – while he was at it – set up a spell that would prevent them from dreaming for a time. That would be unhealthy to leave up too long, but it might be useful in the short run…

(Hoxin, Observing) “Yes, that should work well against most of the minor undead that roam around the grounds here… Since you seek a realmgate, you must be familiar with others then I might take it? Your thoughts on the matter are particularly difficult to read.”

   Kevin was having the Thralls set up illusions of them being more undead, since he couldn’t do illusions particularly well – as well as appointing some to keep an eye on his spells and remind him to renew them when they were starting to run out.

(Kevin) “Yes, we are familiar with a number of other realms. I presume you haven’t run across that very often before?”

(Hoxin) “The few around here that I know of are difficult to access or have such ardent defenses on the far side to make travel difficult. On the other hand, merely having knowledge of them or what might be on the other side can be valuable currency if you know who to sell to… Come then and follow, you’d best be speaking the truth, as my contact does not like it’s time wasted.”

   Kevin spent a few more minutes as they started off providing more Power for Hoxin – but his limits only took a few minutes to reach. Fortunately, that would probably hold him for quite some time however; if he needed that much very often, he would have starved long ago haunting such an empty territory and untraveled route.

   Marty continued to keep an eye out for roving undead.

   Hoxin halted them for some minutes several times, holding up his hand and motioning for them to stop while he sniffed at the air and darted glances around before once more signaling he “all clear” and motioning them forward.

(Hoxin) “One cannot be too careful around here, living or dead. There are things wandering around that cannot be readily seen yet would be unpleasant to run across. Best to let them pass first.”

(Kevin) “Thank you for the warning. Hopefully our meeting will prove mutually profitable…”

(Hoxin) “I suppose it might be best to inform you anyways. As you are probably well aware, reality is thin around here. Things from elsewhere come through, roving nightmares that will land you in a scenario that you have to escape from while suffering grievous duress. I met a man that swore he witnessed he found himself in a prison camp, forced to starve regularly and be beaten before he managed to escape. Once he found his way out he found that only moments had passed in the real world… Sadly for him, I ate him shortly thereafter. (Turns to look at the bunch of you and smiles.) Best be careful.”

   Marty did his best not to look intimidated, but had to admit to himself that he was probably tastier then Kevin on the psychic level. That Core education again… The boy had such self-control and awareness of his own drives and instincts that his emotions almost never overrule his common sense!

   It really did seem a bit boring to live like that to him though.

(Kevin, setting to work on more anti-dreaming and anti mental influence protective spells) “That sounds most unpleasant.”

(Hoxin) “Indeed, let us hope we do not run across the things. (Hoxin motioned for them to leave the road) We must head off into the hills, there is a tunnel that leads down into the “city” such as it is. Do not touch the red cells, no matter what enticing things it may promise to hold. The road will only lead to the sinkhole the city fell into long ago. No way down from there save magic or going back, one attracts unwanted attention and the other wastes time that could lead to being found.”

   Hm. It looked like trade might be less important to Necrosis than they’d been informed – unless it mostly passed through gates or the difficulties of the route were recent. Otherwise, it might well be that the rumor of wealth through trade was merely a lure to bring in additional prey. Well, they would simply abandon the carts if that proved necessary. It was only food, It was sealed well enough to keep out animals, and if some desperate human found it – good for them. Marty would hate to arrive with nothing to trade again, but he had to admit that they probably wouldn’t need it on the far side of the gate.

   For that matter, even Kevin would kind of hate to arrive with nothing but a credit rating – it sort of went against the entire “Trade” philosophy they’d been building on – but if they must, they must.

   Even Hoxin had an opinion on that…

(Hoxin) “Let us see how well the wagons hold up, throwing too much magic around will bring out nasty surprises though. So if the wagons get irretrievably stuck, then lose them instead of resorting to throwing great power around.”

   Fortunately, Marty wasn’t a bad driver (even if he was more used to automobiles), and the enhanced horses were strong, agile, and sure-footed. It was still slow though; they had to keep rerouting to go around ditches, rocky terrain, and other barriers…

   For a moment, an image came to mind of some horse-drawn wagons passing before the moon, but they would have enough trouble without being THAT conspicuous!

(Marty) “I’m SURE it will work!”

(Kevin) “Oh well. “Bringing supplies to the city” is still a reasonable cover. We were fairly reliably informed that they needed at least some, and somehow I doubt that they’ve got many sources… Still, while the Thralls have more than enough massed telekinesis to fly the wagons, it really doesn’t seem like a good idea in Necropolis! Maybe in the next world…”

   As they discussed the merits of the latest hill as a ramp or an obstacle to go around, Hoxin raised his hand for silence once again.

   Much as it pained them, they shut up.

   A ghostly army of what seemed to be armored warriors marched by, and shudder ran through their bodies as the already freezing air took on a supernatural chill. As they watched the army seemed to flicker in and out of existence, as if it kept shifting between two planes of existence as it moved. The line of soldiers marched by only feet from them – but paid them no heed at the moment. They stood by quietly. No need to provoke a confrontation…

   Then some ghostly horsemen come galloping along the marching line – and would pretty obviously pass right through their position. They heard Hoxin’s voice in their heads.

(Hoxin) “Take cover quickly, don’t let one of them touch you or they all will detect us!”

   Kevin, noting an oncoming pair of horses coming in his direction, nonchalantly steped aside as they horses galloped past – but Marty was a bit too busy gaping (ghosts were a real novelty in Battling Business World!) And was barely able to roll to the side as a horseman leaped over the tree stump he had been standing not too far from mere moments before.

   The three Thralls in the line also managed to dodge nimbly – but Marty had the bad luck to wind up in the way twice more. Worse, while he casually twirled around the first one and then flipped onto the tree stump, posed dramatically, and said “Ta-da!”, he then turned around to see what (for a moment) looked like the biggest horse he’d ever seen about to collide with his face.

(Marty) “GAH!”

   In the back of the line, they could hear Hoxin doing a face-palm.

   Fortunately, a couple of the Thralls saw the danger in time – and managed to react swiftly enough to give Marty a telekinetic push. Their combined effort landed him in the icy much face-first – but it was better than being detected.

   Marty mused… well, THAT was the last time he tried anything flashy outside of a fight… at least until they got to the next realm!

   Kevin marked the two alert Thralls down for something special in the way of a goodie later.

   Meanwhile, Marty was tasting mud, with a little bit of ice to it, but all the spectral trampling had managed to melted some of that. But most of all, he tasted mud.

(Marty) “Bleah! I can’t believe I liked this stuff when I was a kid!

   A couple of the thralls were finding it hard to stifle snickers.

   Fortunately, the horsemen had passed and the final ranks of the army were passing at last.

   Marty got out of the muck and let the Smartclothes get to work on cleaning themselves up… He was a mess! He looked like he’d spent a career pig farming without bathing given how thickly he was caked with the stinking mud! He grumbled to himself a bit. Maybe when they’d gotten to somewhere with better cover he could change his clothes. He wasn’t going to feel entirely clean until he’d bathed!

   Meanwhile, Hoxin had just become aware that ALL the people in this group possessed powers – and he was trying to quietly probe the minds of everyone there, horses included.

(Hoxin) “Those are not normal horses are they?”

(Kevin) ” Oh, the ones on the wagons are more-or-less normal. I wanted the servants free to maneuver. Same for the hounds of course.”

   It didn’t look like Hoxin could quite buy that…

(Hoxin) “Nonetheless, (he looked at Marty) maybe you can save the posturing for once this trip is done? Or do you need to get it out of your system now? We do have a lovely stand for you and a soft batch of earth for you to fall in repeatedly if needed.”

(Marty, smiling sheepishly) “Sorry. Old habits die hard. I’m fine now.”

(Hoxin) “Let us continue on then, and hopefully there will be no more mishaps.”

   Further along the way to the tunnel they passed a zombie clutching an empty skull to it’s mouth while shambling along whimpering quietly – and they began to see the red orbs that they’d been warned against earlier dotting the land.

   Kevin felt a bit bad. Even the Zombies were starving! And around here they might be just aware enough to be miserable!

   The red orbs seemed to quietly sparkle every so often as they went past. They could catch occasional glimpses of things hidden deep within their depths. The things cried out for them to take a closer look…

   They resisted the temptation.

   Must… not… look…

   Kevin didn’t even send a Thrall. They were semi-expendable, and he could satisfy his curiosity by proxy easily enough – but it was almost certainly a bait-illusion, they were powerful enough that they might well attract attention even if a “catch” would normally pass unnoticed, and it would be both stupid and unfair to lose one to being trapped in nightmare for a few decades!

(Hoxin) “I believe the tunnel itself is around here somewhere. It may take a few moments to find it though (a slight delay)… Ah, here we go, it looks like this particular tunnel hasn’t been used in some time either. Also looks to be wide enough for the wagons as well. This may well be part of the old tunnel network even.”

(Kevin) “Now that is handy… Although, as I recall, you did not wish to risk confronting the powers that live in the city?”

   Marty had the feeling that they we’re about to get roped into local politics again.

(Hoxin) “Indeed, although there is one you can sometimes find in the markets that may be willing to cooperate given the right price.”

(Kevin) “Ah. Then I take it you intend to guide us a bit further. I shall have to come up with something more useful to you than a temporary infusion of power.”

(Hoxin) “As you wish then, shall we continue? The tunnels will likely be safer than the fields up here.”

   They did – but after some time attempting to navigate the tunnels, which seemed to split and merge with no pattern, Hoxin appeared to start becoming frustrated.

(Hoxin) “Well this is not going as well as I anticipated.”

(Marty) “What’s the trouble?”

(Hoxin) “The tunnels seemingly loop back on themselves. I can see my claw marks on the floor and walls where we have passed before to no avail. Something is actively distorting the path.”

   Kevin sighed – and had the Thralls with divination start running basic detections – magic, illusion, life, etc – while he did some magic-concealment effects.

   Marty had Yorick give it a try as well.

   Hm… It looked to be a variation on the classic Maze spell – but instead of transporting them to another dimension, it transported pieces of the local space elsewhere as required to make the tunnels. Had they tripped some sort of threat-warning, if only by not being noted before? They would have assumed that Necrosis would normally want people to come in. Perhaps he liked to drain them slowly though? This kind of security measure would reduce the rare chance of people getting rescued.

   They spun some illusions to try and tell the spell that they were “authorized to pass” – and looked for magical directions or signs, focusing on looking with life-detection and psychic energy detections which might correspond to the special senses of the undead.

   Hm… There seemed to be slightly higher concentrations of lichen on some of the rocks at one of the tunnel entrances. When viewed with a “Detect Life” effect it did seem slightly brighter than the rest of the ground in the area.

   They opted to follow those signs. Presumably those were normally only apparent to undead – unless they were leading them into a subtle double-trap meant to catch the overly clever and sneaky. They couldn’t put that past Necrosis.

   At each turn they saw another patch of the lichen at one of the intersecting tunnels. It looked like they needed to follow the correct series perfectly; a single wrong turn would lead them right back to the entry chamber – and there were twenty turns before they found themselves and the wagons at the entrance to a side alley opening up into a dark, dank, and moldy street. The area seemed to be lit by gas lamps that lined the streets.

(Hoxin) “Well that appears to have gotten us into the city proper. I would avoid trying to sleep anywhere inside the city if you can help it. I think we are in the live experiment section of the city though which should be safer than most. The city is divided into cantons based on the type and nature of the experiment. The living specimens are housed here. Undead ones in another section of the city. And then you have various other types that I do not adequately understand in other sections. They all are constantly trying to undermine each other and show themselves to be the true and worthy experiment of Necrosis himself. He sits at the top of the mess and hardly intervenes save on a whim. I suspect the politics in here is another one of his experiments. How many people there are depends on your definition of alive. If you include those whose minds have died, then the numbers are into the hundreds of thousands. If you don’t count them, then the population is probably only 80 to 100 thousand at best.”

   Hm. That was still quite a population. They had to wonder how the natives were being fed. Was Necrosis importing food from elsewhere or was he using pure magic – or did he have some necromantic version of hydroponics or perpetually regenerating creatures or vats of flesh to butcher endlessly?

(Marty) “Can you give us an overview of the politics?”

(Hoxin) “Certainly, although understand my knowledge is limited. The living specimens live here, and this area is the best around for being able to eat, sleep and live to see tomorrow. Each canton is largely governed internally, and each is constantly striving to kill some of the more hostile experiments running loose. The residents here do not trust anything at first, and always keep a knife on them. Their biggest goal that I know of – besides simple survival – is collecting the red orbs. The mindless undead are usually kept in large pits where failed experiments are thrown in.”

(Kevin) “What do they want the red orbs for?

(Hoxin) “It is my understanding that they believe those house the minds of their comrades lost in the nightmares. They hope to revive the ones who have suffered mind-death to live again. I do not know how well that works, or even if it does.”

(Marty) “So he’s stuck them down here in a futile effort to free their friends? Must be confident he can keep them in there.”

(Kevin) “They may – but matching those minds to bodies, releasing them without sending them onwards, getting them back into the bodies, and then treating their near-certain insanity, sounds like a daunting project. I suspect they have few other hopes.”

   They set forth into the city.

Secrets of the Sith – Biowarfare

   Self-reproducing biological weapons are, in many ways, the poor man’s Death Star. You can not only render a planet near-useless and virtually uninhabitable, but you can – with only a little luck – sucker your enemies into wasting vast amounts of resources on evacuating or attempting to salvage the place.

   Biowarfare organisms can be transported in a small ship, quietly smuggled in, and – quite often – can be released without even raising an alarm. Often, you can get away without anyone even being able to identify you – and once you’ve got some, restocking is cheap and easy.

   OK, they’re slow, and often get out of control, and sometimes counteragents can be found – but they are still terror weapons par excellance. Even the Sith don’t usually use many weapons in this category; such things are too easily turned back against your own domains. After all, once you release such a weapon, you’ve placed it in the hands of your enemies.

   Currently the characters are exploring a bioweapons facility established by an ocean-dwelling Sith Lord many centuries ago – and have found that, thanks to stasis-cells, an unknown number of the weapons and experimental subjects contained therein are still viable. Perhaps worse, the maintenence  and security drods have been using the production facilities to maintain the production facilities and themselves – and are still waiting and ready to follow out their ancient orders.

   Fortunately, they have managed to pull the basic layout. The constructing species likedwide, gently curving and branching tunnels (to allow for better water flow) and circular domed rooms – and saw no reason to change that simply because they were building deep underground. From a human’s point of view, the place is a semi-random tangle of huge round rooms with equipment scattered through them and curving and branching connecting corridors with a distinctly “organic” feel. The major rooms include:

  • 01) Entrance from Spaceport.
  • 02) Entrance from Lab Buildings.
  • 03) Security Room, Final Biocontainment.
  • 04) Decontamination Chamber.
  • 05) Biohazard Gear Storage.
  • 06) Internal Monitoring Room, Drone Control.
  • 07) Megafauna Prototype Evaluation / Combat Arena.
  • 08) Megafauna Prototype Pens.
  • 09) Test Subject Pens.
  • 10) Arena Control Room, Panic Room.
  • 11) Drone Storage and Maintenance.
  • 12) Microbiological Laboratory.
  • 13) Genetic Synthesis.
  • 14) Culturing and Storage.
  • 15) Test Animal Facilities.
  • 16) Monitoring Room, Bio-Isolation Control.
  • 17) Convenience Rooms (scattered off corridors and rooms. Unnoted, but common).
  • 18) Megafauna Cloning Systems.
  • 19) Support Systems: Food Synthesis, Life Support, Waste Reprocessing, Maintenance Drone Hangers, Workshops.
  • 20) Bioweapon Packaging, Biostasis Systems.
  • 21) Biofiltration and Anticontamination Systems.
  • 22) Staff Quarters.
  • 23) Break and Lunch Room.
  • 24) Test Subject / Prisoner Storage.
  • 25) Computer Services (With Backups, Backup Power, and Microelectronics Workroom).
  • 26) Primary Control, Evaluation and Analysis. Central Drone Control.
  • 27) Directors Escape Shuttle.
  • 28) Emergency Power Room.
  • 29) Special Projects (Force Weaponry).
  • 29a) Sith Guard Posts.
  • 30) Security Guard Quarters, including arsenal, interrogation room, and training room.
  • 31) Security Room, Final Biocontainment.
  • 32) Biosample Stasis Lockers.
  • 33) To Geothermal Power Plant / Sterilization Vent.
  • 34) Executive Entrance (to private shuttlepad).

Champions – Kugia

   Here we have an anime-style Mystic Ninja, built on a 75-point base – albeit with the one permissable slice of cheese (the attribute aid) to make Mystic Ninja a cut above all the relatively normal people.

Ketatamashy Kugia Kanatoko

 

Value Characteristic Points
14/20 STR 4
16/18 DEX 18
13/16 CON 6
13/16 BODY 6
13/19 INT 3
13/16 EGO 6
4/10 PRE -6
6/18 COM -2
4/7 PD 0
3/6 ED 0
5 SPD 24
8/11 REC 2
23/35 END -1
30/36 STUN 0
  Total 60

 

Points Powers END
3 Elemental Control: Basic Chakra Training (5-pt reserve); Basic Chakra Powers Only (-.5).  
a-3 Armor (4 PD/3 ED)  
b-9 END (Chakra) Reserve (160 END, 2 REC/turn)  
c-3 Running (+5″, 11″, NC: 22″); Non-Combat Multiplier: ×2, +0; Non-Combat (MPH): 19 2
d-3 Superleap (+10″, 14″, NC: 28″); Non-Combat Multiplier: ×2, +0; Non-Combat (MPH): 37 2
4 +6 CP to All Attributes Chakra Channels; Modifications to Primary Attributes do not affect secondary attributes. Aid to Defenses has half effect per standard rules.  
(6) 1d6 Aid (All attributes) (Fade/turn, Max. 6); Range: 0; Affects: All Powers of Special Effect, +2; Reduced END: Zero & Persistent, +1; Always On: -½; Personal Only: -1; Increases maximums only, does not speed healing: -1; Aid to Defenses is halved per the standard rules. Aid to primary attributes does not affect secondary ones. 0
     
6 2d6 60-Point Available Equipment Allowance Aid (Fade/week, Max. 60); Range: 0; Affects: Single Power of Special Effect, +¼; Extra Time: 1 hour, -2½; Only activates in armories, labs, or between outings: -1½; Personal Only: -1; Difficult to Dispel: ×2, +¼; Increased END: ×10, -4; Only to GM-specified items: -2; Actual point total of equipment available limited by GM decision.: -2; Must actually locate gear, availability is not automatic.: -2; This allows a character to haul along 60 CP worth of customized gear. 30
     
36 Jitsu Multipower (90-pt reserve); Campaign Limitations on Available Powers (-.25), All Externally-Directed Powers require Gestures (-.25), Visible (all powers can be sensed by other Chakra users, -.25), student powers can only be activated after the first two phases of combat and master powers can only be activated after the first full turn of combat (-.5), and have another -.5 in Variable Limitations (-.25) to keep things interesting.
Most students will have activation checks as well.
 
     
  Student Techniques (30 points or Less)  
u-1 Hand-to-Hand Attack: Focused Strike (6d6, Total 10d6); Range: 0; Activation: 14-, -½ 2
u-1 Multiblow Technique: STR; Reduced END: Zero, +1; Autofire: 5 shots, ½; Activation: 14-, -½  
u-1 Shape Shift (Any Human Form) (Limited Group); Reduced END: Half, +¼; Requires Skill Roll (Disguise Skill): -½ 1
u-1 Spatial Awareness; Can be confused by too many targets, whirlwinds of leaves, etc.: -½  
u-1 Images: Shadow Clones (Hearing, Sight, 4″ radius); Range: 150; Observer PER Penalty: 0, +0; Only to makes multiple images of yourself: -1 3
u-1 Simulate Death; Takes a full turn to come out of the trance.: -1  
u-1 Darkness (Normal Sight, 3″ radius); Range: 0; No Range: -¼; Personal Immunity: +¼ 4
u-1 12″ Teleportation: Substitution Jitsu (Long Range 12″); Increased Range: ×1, +0; Long Range: 12″; Long Range (miles): 0.01; Mass Multiplier: ×1, +0; Fixed Locations: 0; Floating Locations: 0; Trigger (When about to be creamed): Set, +¼; Charges: +3, -1¼ 0
u-1 Enhanced Perception (all) (+10 to PER); Renders the user extremely vulnerable to sensory overloads: -½  
     
  Master Techniques (Up to 60 points)  
u-2 Weapons Master Attunement; Costs END: -½  
(11) +4 level w/All Combat; Costs END: -½  
(5) +4 DC for Martial Attacks; Costs END: -½  
     
45 Common Equipment  
(7) Concealed Ninja Armor (4 PD/2 ED); IIF: -¼  
     
(20) Equipment Multipower (40-pt reserve); -1/2 Variable Limitations: various OAF’s. GM-determined availablity and characteristics for gear (-.5).  
     
  Minor Items: 1-20 Active Points.  
u-1 Binoculars: Telescopic Sense (Sight, +10 to PER)  
u-1 +1 Poison Darts: Killing Attack (RKA); Range: 100; No Normal Defense (Alien metabolism, Unable to Administer (GMO), Antidote): +1; Active Points: 20; NND that does Body: +1; Continuous: +1; Charges: +4, -½; Clips: 4 0
u-1 1d6 Knife: Killing Attack (HTH) (Total 2d6); Range: 0 1
u-1 Tent: Change Environment (Dry and Comfortable) (2″ rad.); Effect: Fixed, +0; Charges: 1, +½; Continuing Charges: 1 Day, -7 lev; Recoverable Charges: -2 lev; OAF: -1 0
u-1 Wrist Grapnel and LIne: Swinging (+12″, NC: 24″); Non-Combat Multiplier: ×2, +0; Non-Combat (MPH): 45; Reduced END: Half, +¼ 1
     
  Notable Items: 21-40 Active Points.  
u-1 1d6+1 Light Shuriken, Killing Attack (RKA); Range: 200; Autofire: 5 shots, ½; Charges: 32, +½; Clips: 4 0
u-2 2d6 Stimulant: Aid to all physical attributes (Fade/hour, Max. 12); Range: 0; Affects: All Powers of Special Effect, +2; Charges: +32, +¼; Generic Limitation (Can’t heal damaged attributes: These drop back to initial levels): -½ 0
u-1 2d6 First Aid Kit: Aid to all damaged powers and attributes (Fade/turn, Max. 12); Range: 0; Affects: All Powers of Special Effect, +2; Restore Only Lost Characteristics and Powers: -½; Charges: 12, -¼ 0
u-1 Flares: Change Environment/Brightly Lit (32″ rad.); Effect: Fixed, +0; Charges: 6, +0; Continuing Charges: 1 Minute, -3 lev 0
u-2 2d6 Flash Pellets (Normal Sight); Range: 200; Area Effect (Radius): 2″ radius, +1; Charges: 12, -¼ 0
u-2 2d6 Knockout Drops: Energy Blast; Range: 200; Versus: ED; No Normal Defense (vrs not ingesting or being injected with it, alien metabolism.): +1; Continuous: +1; Charges: +12, +1; Continuing Charges: 1 Hour, -5 lev; Extra Time: full phase, -½ 0
u-1 Smoke Grenades: Darkness (Normal Sight, 1″ radius); Range: 135; Area Effect (Radius): 8″ radius, +1; Increased Area: ×8, +¾; Charges: 6, +0; Continuing Charges: 1 Minute, -3 lev 0
u-2 Irritating Smoke Grenade: Change Environment (16″ rad.); Effect: Fixed, +0; Charges: 8, +½; Continuing Charges: 5 Minutes, -4 lev; While tear gas inflicts a -2 penalty on all rolls on characters with eyes and without life support, it really isn’t all that effective in superheroic settings. 0
u-1 2d6+1 Large Sword: Killing Attack (HTH) (Total 3½d6); Range: 0 3
78 Total Powers  

 

Points Skills, Talents, Perks Roll
3 Acrobatics 13-
3 Breakfall 13-
3 Stealth 13-
3 Survival 11-
     
  Basic Combat Training:  
8 +1 level w/All Combat  
5 Defensive Block (OCV +1, DCV +3)  
4 Fast Strike (OCV +2, DCV +0, 10d6)  
3 Martial Throw (OCV +0, DCV +1, 8d6+v/5)  
32 Total Skills, Talents, Perks  

 

75+ Disadvantages
20 Psychological Limitation: Ninja Code (Very Common, Strong)
15 Fear of Crowds (Common, Strong)
15 Reputation: Village (14-)
5 Watched: Village Elders (8-); Capabilities: More Powerful, 15; Non-combat Influence: None, +0; Geographical Area: Unlimited, -0; Only Watching: ×½; Punishment: Mild, -5
10 Distinctive Features: Anime Costumes; Concealability: Concealable, 10; Reaction: Noticed and Recognizable, +0
10 Hunted: Enemy Ninja (8-); Capabilities: As Powerful, 10; Non-combat Influence: None, +0; Geographical Area: Unlimited, -0; Actions: Hunting, ×1; Punishment: Harsh, 0
75 Total Disadvantages

 

COSTS: Char.    Powers    Total Total    Disadv.    Base    Exp.
  60 + 110 = 170 170 = 75 + 75 + 20

 

OCV DCV ECV Mental Def. PD/rPD ED/rED Phases
6 6 5 0 15/8 11/5 3, 5, 8, 10, 12

Champions – Afreet

   Afreet is a fairly typical warrior demon – and, like most such beings, is built on a grand total of zero points. Demons are frighteningly EASY to summon, and not that hard to compel – but making sure that they don’t “misunderstand” even the simplest orders so as to find an excuse for some atrocity is murderously difficult.
   Afreet is one of Flensers usual minons – which, as a demon, suits him marvelously as a personal thing but, since Flenser is no magician, deprives him of some of the extra powers he might gain if he were summoned by a mage capable of adding some points to those he gains from his disadvantages.

Afreet

Value Characteristic Points
45/75 STR 35
20/30 DEX 30
33 CON 46
18/21 BODY 16
8 INT -2
14 EGO 8
30 PRE 20
0 COM -5
22/25 PD 13
17/20 ED 10
6 SPD 30
16 REC 0
66 END 0
58/61 STUN 0
  Total 201

 

Points Powers END
37 Multipower (75-pt reserve); Infernal Flame Powers: -½; Will not work on Holy Ground: -½  
u-3 5d6 Killing Attack (HTH); Sword Of Infernal Flame (Total 10d6); Range: 0. 7
u-3 10d6 Energy Blast; Infernal Fireball; Range: 375; Versus: ED; Explosion (Extended Area +0″/DC): +½. 7
u-3 10d6 Aid; Black Magic (Fade/min., Max. 60); Range: 0; Affects: Single Power of Special Effect, +¼. 7
u-3 Modified Characteristic: STR; Affects Desolidified: +½; Active Points: 150; Reduced END: Zero, +½.  
u-3 5d6 Energy Blast; Aura Of Infernal Flame; Range: 375; Versus: ED; Damage Shield: +½; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Uncontrolled: +½; Active Points: 75; Penetrating: +½. 0
u-3 5d6 Energy Blast; Spirit Fire; Range: 375; Versus: ED; Based on EGO Combat Value: vs. ECV, +1; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Armor Piercing: 1, +½. 0
u-3 Force Field; Aura Of Infernal Flame (15 PD/15 ED); Active Points: 75; Uncontrolled: +½; Reduced END: Zero & Persistent, +1. 0
u-2 Interrogation; Torture. 36-
u-3 15″ Teleportation (Long Range 7,500″); Increased Range: ×500, +45; Active Points: 75; Long Range: 7,500″; Long Range (miles): 9.32; Mass Multiplier: ×1, +0; Fixed Locations: 0; Floating Locations: 0. 3
u-2 1d6 Transform; Demonic Imbuement (Major, Limited Class); Range: 0; No Range: -½; Active Points: 45; Difficult to Dispel: ×8, +¾; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Cumulative: +½.Willing target to soulless demonic creature or corrupt cultist, Raped woman to bearer of demonic spawn. 0
u-2 Extra-Dimensional Movement; Infernal Realms; Dimensions: Group, +10; Time Travel: None, +0; Mass Multiplier: ×16, +20; Carrying Mass: 800. 5
     
10 Elemental Control; Demonic Powers (10-pt reserve)  
a-7 10″ Flight (NC: 20″); Non-Combat Multiplier: ×2, +0; Non-Combat (MPH): 45; Restrainable; Must be able to flap wings: -½ 2
b-10 Damage Resistance (20 PD/20 ED)  
c-8 Growth-3 (×8 mass, ×2 height); Mass: 600 kg/1,320 lbs; Height: 370 cm/12’2″; Extra STR: 15; Knockback Reduction: -3; Extra BODY: 3; Extra STUN: 3; DCV Penalty: -2; PER Penalty: +2; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Always On: -½ 0
d-20 Damage Reduction (Physical, 50% Resistant)  
e-8 Density Increase-3 (×8 mass); Mass: 600 kg/1,320 lbs; Extra PD: +3; Extra ED: +3; Extra STR: +15; Knockback: -3″; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Always On: -½ 0
f-13 +10 DEX; Infernal Fury (CV Only); Doesn’t Affect Figured: -½  
g-5 Regeneration (2 BODY/Turn); Regenerate: Standard, +0; Activation: 11-, -1  
h-10 Mental Defense (23 pts); Add to Total  
i-5 N-Ray Vision; Only to see souls: -1  
j-3 +10 BODY; Only to stave off death.: -1½; Does not work if true name is known: -½; Doesn’t Affect Figured: -½  
     
5 Infrared Vision  
5 Flash Defense (Sight, 5 pts)  
7 Power Defense (7 pts)  
183 Total Powers  

 

Points Skills, Talents, Perks Roll
24 +3 level w/All Combat  
4 Survival; Only for use in Infernal Regions.: -1 14-
3 Trading 15-
31 Total Skills, Talents, Perks  

 

100+ Disadvantages
25 Distinctive Features; Giant Flaming Demon; Concealability: Not Concealable, 15; Reaction: Extreme, +10
25 Hunted; The Ordo Crux Anastes (14-); Capabilities: More Powerful, 15; Non-combat Influence: None, +0; Geographical Area: Unlimited, -0; Actions: Hunting, ×1; Punishment: Harsh, 0
25 Hunted; The Thunderbolts (11-); Capabilities: More Powerful, 15; Non-combat Influence: Extensive, +5; Geographical Area: Unlimited, -0; Actions: Hunting, ×1; Punishment: Harsh, 0
10 Public Identity
20 Reputation; Demon (14-, Extreme)
10 Reputation; General Limits & Abilities known by competent sorcerers. (11-)
20 Phys. Lim.; Cannot pass thru demon wards, enter holy places, etc. (Frequently, Fully)
20 Phys. Lim; Banished to Hell at 0 Body (Frequently, Fully)
10 Phys. Lim; Cannot enter earths dimension without being summoned, must obey summoner – at least somewhat. (Infrequently, Greatly)
20 Cannot pass up a chance to destroy things (Very Common, Strong)
15 Hatred of Holy Men and Places (Common, Strong)
10 Vengeful (Uncommon, Strong)
5 Wants to steal souls whenever possible (Uncommon, Moderate)
40 Susceptibility; Contact with Holy Items/Persons (1d6 STUN and BODY/Phase); Condition: Common, +10
10 Susceptibility; Exorcism Rituals (1d6 STUN/Turn); Condition: Uncommon, +5
20 4d6 Unluck
20 Berserk; If imprisoned (11-, 8-, Berserk); Circumstances: Uncommon, +5
15 Powerless against the truly innocent (Uncommon, Total); Situation: Uncommon, +5; Intensity: Total, +10
10 Duties; Subject to orders from the Lords Of Hell (Uncommon, Strong); Situation: Uncommon, +5; Intensity: Strong, +5
15 Enraged; In Combat (11-, 8-); Circumstances: Very Common, +15
40 Vulnerability; Holy Magic, Powers Of Light (2× STUN and BODY); Attack: Common, +10
10 Vulnerability; Ice & Cold Attacks (1½× STUN); Attack: Common, +10
10 Rivalry; Other demons.; Situation: Professional, 5; Position: Superior, +5; Rival: NPC, +0
10 Rivalry; The Powers Of Light; Situation: Professional, 5; Position: Superior, +5; Rival: NPC, +0
415 Total Disadvantages

 

COSTS: Char.    Powers    Total Total    Disadv.    Base
  201 + 214 = 415 515 = 415 + 100

 

OCV DCV ECV Mental Def. PD/rPD ED/rED Phases
10 10 / 8 5 23 40/35 35/35 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12

   Story: Born of the darkest imaginings of the Abyss, Afreet is – like all demons – subject to the whims of mankind; his form partially depends on human beliefs, he can be summoned and bound by whatever weird ritual is currently popular, and he cannot pass holy symbols or into blessed areas.

   Height: 185/370cm (6’1″/12’2″), Weight: 75/4800kg (165 lbs/10,560 lbs), Sex: Male, Race: Fire Demon

   Appearance: Afreet is a huge, blatantly male, fire demon with an aura of flame, a mixture of fur & scales, horns, hooves, talons, fangs and muzzle, and a serpentine tail. His overall body form is vaguely canine.

Star Wars – Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav: Session 1

After yet another daring escape ahead of the authorities and large amounts of property damage, we were back in space again on our ship. At least for the moment, the drive system starting making an odd noise and Handell started swearing. My sarcastic comment of going out and Force Pushing the ship was met with a great deal more approval than I had expected. I knew this piece of junk was in dire need of repairs, but this was worse than I anticipated.

Handell felt he could make the jump to hyperspace and wanted to know what our destination was. After a quick review of everyone we had annoyed thus far, we had annoyed the Sith, the Jedi, the Republic, the bounty hunters, a couple of major criminal syndicates and authorities on several planets. Looked like the best bet was as far away from any of them we could get. So I suggested a world on the outer rim outside of Republic or Sith space. The suggestion was quickly approved by the group and the jump to hyperspace was made.

At which point it became apparent we had an additional passenger I had not accounted for in my estimations. This one looked to be a cat person of some sort named Lazlo. When I asked where he came from and why he was onboard, he replied saying he was a servant of Handell. Now, I am known for not paying attention in class, but surely I would have noticed this one. A quick conversation revealed Handell thought him to be a drunken hallucination that Handell won in a card game. I chose not to ask any further questions as the two of them discussed Handell’s hallucinating habits. I mean, I used to drink pretty heavily in school, but I never got to the point where I thought I was hallucinating.

The trip was a long one taking nearly seven days in total. The small fires in the drive system pretty much wore out the only fire extinguisher we had and I ended up jury rigging something using carbonated beverages and adhesive tape to keep things under control. It also gave me plenty of time to brood, not only on the Anti-Force, but of home. I find my attention turning there of late, thinking of friends and family. I do not particularly understand why, but my thoughts have focused on Dorothy in particular quite a bit. It finally occurred to me that none of them might know that I am still alive after the destruction of the Naichron. So I got to writing a letter in my spare time when I was not practicing.

After seven days, we finally dropped out of hyperspace above our destination. The place looked like the proverbial backwater of the galaxy, which made it perfect in my books. After Handell announced that it was good I approved as we were not going to be able to go into hyperspace again, did I begin to worry. Not much to do except to strap myself in and be ready with the fire extinguisher as Handell worked his magic. Telera was having issues keeping the two young apprentices calm, and Khadim and 10CH didn’t really seem to care either way. Garyan seemed to enjoy the ride and wanted to tell tales of the orbital drops he had been on. Lazlo was busy complaining about how dangerous this type of landing was to Handell and kept glaring at me for whatever reason. I never really did like cats.

Handell did manage to land us without any navigational guidance and minimal drive capability. I would say he landed us in one piece, but the pile of debris a kilometer to the south testifies otherwise. Another small fire had broken out onboard and the atmospheric scrubbers had finally lost the battle with the smoke. I open the hatches and vented the place, then chucked the unconscious Lazlo out into the fresh air before taking stock of the situation.

It looked like we had two people here waiting for us. One looked to be a stereotypical hunter (although something seemed off or damaged about her Force aura). The other was a young man with trucks full of parts and a datapad. His force aura looked off too, although he apparently had some power. He proceeded to introduce himself as Ben and announced he was waiting for us with all the parts he would need to fix the ship and an estimate for the repairs. Needless to say this set off warning bells in my mind as how exactly could anyone could have anticipated our arrival was beyond me. Although it took some digging, after awhile I was able to piece together that he claimed to be an escapee from some Sith breeding project. The name of his Sith Master also rang a bell as some nutjob I had heard of busily manufacturing bio weapons. Lovely.

The lady introduced herself as a noble from Coruscant named Alys. No easy way to verify that, although the sheer willingness she displayed at helping us foot the repair bill on the ship was also disturbing. I have seen some coincidences in my brief tour with the Force, but people showing up with money and no questions asked is begging for concern. Nonetheless, even with Alys and Ben’s assistance, the repairs were just going to be beyond our means entirely. It was time to look for work.

Handell went off to a bar to drown his hallucinations again, and I followed on a pretext of doing something similar. While I did have a few drinks, it mainly served to help learn where work might be found on this farming planet. Biggest jobs were for hunting some legendary creature in the mountains, hunting giant jelly fish in the sea, and investigating some underwater ruins. A quick conversation with Alys and some common sense dictated the creature in the mountains was likely merely a legend. While I was certain that we could go on trips hunting jellyfish without too much issue, there was something regarding the supposed history of the things that concerned me. The story that the annoying things were designed by some sapient species to be symbiotes just didn’t mesh with how the things had run wild. Never mind the fact we had an admitted creation of a Sith bio weapons developer among us.

I advocated the group go on a fishing trip while I explored the ruins alone. Ben and Alys unsurprisingly wanted to tag along with me. Handell then announced he wanted to go as well, which relieved me that I would not be down there alone with the two of them. At which point Lazlo began complaining bitterly about all of us suicidally marching to our doom. I offered that he could stay behind or even stay with the ship, but he adamantly insisted he must remain with Handell, and that we shouldn’t be dragging Handell with us. I shrugged, I wasn’t forcing Handell to do anything, although I did appreciate his presence.

A quick stop at the library (I never believed I would be saying that) revealed more about the history of the world and the background behind the ruins and their probable origin. Aquatic species shows up, experiments with engineering symbiotic organisms and then promptly looses control to an obvious flaw. I was certain I didn’t buy the story, but needed to investigate first. Maybe it is from watching too many holos as a kid, but too many pieces were falling into place for this to be a normal research lab. We had a probable bio weapons lab, an engineered Sith specimen from a known bio weapons engineer that had “escaped” and was waiting for me to arrive here, and conveniently is missing parts that will require him to follow me down to the ruins to salvage parts. I smelled a set up.

It was about the time we left the library that the port authorities arrived. They wanted to apologize for their inability to guide us into a landing and wanted to know if we were alright. I told we were fine, although the ship was definitely worse for wear, not that this was their fault. They did seem appalled at the still smoking ruin of the ship, and didn’t seem to appreciate the joke I made regarding neglecting regular maintenance. Oh well. When they asked if the ship was ours, I got vague and told them it was complicated, but that for there purposes yes we did. Lazlo then proceeded to go into a fit of hysterics on this point, alleging that I was blatantly insinuating something or other. I just turned to the authorities and shrugged after I handed them the (forged) paperwork. His word against mine and I had documentation (however fake it might be). Not that I recall any of us telling him about the ship’s history. Curious, best to keep an eye on that one.

It was about this point I learned the ship was a submersible. Who would have thought that? Would be an incredibly useful ability to get functional again, although that meant more repair costs. Now there is a thought, since I am going to be replacing just about every damn part on this ship, does the original owner still have a claim? Course considering the owner was engaging in what I would consider kidnapping at the time of theft, I would say he got off easy. Now I would consider the ship to be fair exchange for the illicit bounties he sought. Will that hold up in court? Damned if I know, and I don’t intend to give him the chance to take me to court.

A quick stop at the post office and then to the docks for our little expedition. Hmm, looks like the letter home is going to have to go by ship until it reaches the galactic network and then on to Alderaan. Hopefully they will get it before to long.

A quick check told us the archaeologists and their sponsors were going to provide the equipment we needed to scout around the ruins. We just needed to be the souls foolish enough to brave monstrous jelly fish and whatever else may be down there while reporting what we found. Simple enough, and the boat ride out to the ruins was a pleasant experience I hadn’t had in a while. Reminded me of some of the sea trips the family used to go on gathering genetic samples for mother’s work. I was getting lost in the memories of the time and found myself at the dive sight before I realized it. We had a last briefing of the sonar scans, suited up and dove in.

It was an amazing sight though as we dove through the depths. Being a tetra chromatic has always been of marginal benefit, but it does give me better definition of visual colors and slight glimpses into the ultraviolet. This was especially apparent during the dive as I was able to see rich and colorful tapestries of algae and plankton surrounding us. Added to this was my ability to sense the raw life energy around me as we dove. Combined the two gave me such a sensation that I doubt the others could appreciate. There are days I really like these Force powers.

We finally hit bottom at nearly a thousand meters. Despite the suits I could still feel the presence of the immense water pressure on us. The place was dark with much of the light from above filtered out by this depth. Even my eyes could not tell much without the aid of lights. We quickly made our way to the spaceport section of the ruins looking for salvage and clues as to why the people left. It looked like most of the buildings had collapsed and their contents decayed in the saltwater, but one building was apparently left standing intact. First attempt at opening the door was a nonstarter, it looked like the only way was to force it open.

I powered on my lightsaber, much to the shock of my companions. Ben seemed most scared of the implications, which surprised me. I would have thought he knew who I was considering the circumstances. Perhaps he has me mistaken for someone else? Alys went quiet although I was certain I could see the dots connecting in her head. Perhaps she really is what she says she is? Ben questions about where and how I came to possess a lightsaber I managed to deflect with vague generalities about being a Force user. Best to keep them guessing if they are uncertain I thought. Although Lazlo began asking all sorts of annoying pointed questions about what I was and didn’t seem to take the hint to drop the topic. Handell then proceeded to tell Lazlo that I was a major Sith Lord out on some dark mission or something. While I was seriously annoyed at Handell for telling such a tale, I was pleased that Lazlo became quiet for the moment.

Lightsaber drawn, I proceeded to poke an exploratory hole into the door to peer through. All intentions beyond that point were taken from me as the lightsaber was sucked out of my hands through the door due to an apparent pressure differential. While glad I still had my hand and contemplating how I might retrieve the blade, Lazlo started up again asking why I did not have a wrist strap on the thing for circumstances like this. Responding that this had never come up before quieted him although he said he would make a leather strap for it. Hmm, I do not like the idea of how my hand would have fared against that kind of pull, perhaps it best not to have a strap afterall.

On the plus side, equalizing the pressure seemed to enable the door mechanism. The door looked to have a keypad combination lock on it. While I was tempted to just pull my lightsaber back through the door with telekinesis and try cutting again, Ben piped up with another plan. He used his precognition ability to run all possible key combinations against the lock and pick the future that led to the door opening. A very impressive feat by any means if true. I mean, the best I can manage are the occasional visions or a few seconds in combat to better block or dodge. It could be that he already knew the pass-code from his master and was only attempting to bluff us on his skill.

He opened the door on the first try, which did not prove either scenario in my book. Nonetheless, we were now inside and I began to hunt for my lightsaber. Quick glance found that it had sliced open a container and was now laying on the floor. The container was now leaking some sort of ooze into the surrounding water. I telekinetically pulled my lightsaber back to me and waited with caution as I watched the ooze. Ben wandered up and tried to read the label on the box that was sliced open. He was quickly enveloped in the ooze as it took the form of one of the jelly fish. I tried to pull him away from it using the Force to little success, the jelly fish was surprisingly strong.

The others began blasting the jellyfish with blasters, and Alys showed a disturbing penchant for shooting Ben to get the jellyfish off of him. Quickly enough the jellyfish lost its structure and was going to need time to reform itself. Looking around I telekinetically grabbed the box the thing had escaped from and sliced off one side as Lazlo demanded to know what I was doing. Ignoring him, I then placed the box over the jellyfish and welded the open end of the box to the floor using my lightsaber. That at least bought us some more time as the jellyfish now had to reform itself and eat it’s way out of the box. Alys quickly took position to blast pieces of it that leaked through and I went to Ben to see what I could do to stabilize him.

Alys had already applied a patch to his suit to prevent the water from leaking in more, and it looked like Ben had managed to purge himself of most of the toxins. On the other hand, the electrical impulses of his nervous system were now very erratic. It took some effort with the Force to try to steady the nervous impulses and bring his body back under his control. Soon enough he was able to talk and move around on his own again, although not able to do much else of effort. It does look like massive precognition ability does not make up for a lack of common sense.

Handell had meanwhile found another stash of crates marked with the countermeasures to these now obvious bio weapons. He was bringing the one back for the jelly fish creatures so I threw my lightsaber at the box he was holding, slicing it’s contents open onto the box welded to the floor. He looked mildly annoyed at me for the stunt, but Alys was running out of power cells and my patience was wearing thin. That killed that annoyance quickly enough. A quick glance at the remaining boxes confirmed my suspicions that the rest were more bioweapons and counteragents. A brief discussion ensued over what to do with the things. Someone wanted to look into selling the damn things to someone insane enough to likely use the things. I quickly shot that down and suggested we destroy them all down here and neglect to tell the surface they have a bio weapons lab down here. I can just see the locals being stupid enough to think they could profit from this.

Everyone quickly agreed to my suggestion, which surprised me on some counts. I would have thought Ben was here to retrieve some of these things. It would also appear our hunter is not so stereotypical as would first appear. After killing all the stored bioweapons and then wiping the recordings so the locals wouldn’t get any bright ideas, it turned to salvage. The stasis containers could be worth some credits, and they appeared to be remotely powered by some nuclear pile system. The yellow button looked ominous, but Ben caught on to the danger before I did. Blasted thing was designed to detonate if the button was pressed. Worth salvaging, if troublesome to get out. Lazlo kept looking at how to try and squeeze it through the doorway so we could get a line on it and drag it to the surface.

I proceeded to cut a hole in the ceiling and directed Lazlo to swim out and bring a line in from up top. I also welded another piece of metal over the button to prevent the surface bunch from pressing it either. I really didn’t want our surface crew nuking themselves while leaving us down here hundreds of kilometers from shore. Meanwhile Handell was busily decoding more of the writing lying around with Ben’s aid. Pretty much confirmed the Holo movie style plot, crazy nutjobs create horrible abominations to use as weapons without putting a lot of thought into it and accidentally lose control of their creations.

A quick survey of the remaining collapsed warehouses found us some more parts, all of them gold-plated. Gold-plated? I understand that gold is useful as a coating for undersea use, but wasn’t this planet metal poor? Someone went to a lot of expense to locate a bio weapons lab here that could have been located somewhere else more safely and cheaply. Something else is going on here and these bioweapons are only the tip of the iceberg.

At that point it was time to surface, rest and get new air tanks while Ben received proper medical treatment. The next day we dove again. This time we concentrated our efforts on an unusually smooth section of the sea floor with a rough circular shape. Not knowing what might be under there, I felt caution was in order. I asked the ship above to try and drop a weight onto the circle while we watched from some distance. Foresight and common sense won yet again as the weight struck the dome sinking into the mud and making a horrible racket as it banged against something metallic repeatedly. In response to the racket, three aquatic droids appeared out of the sediment and began a patrol pattern.

One of them quickly found us and demanded that we identify ourselves in Falusian. Falusian? Ah yes, I seem to recall they were the species believed to have built the ruins four thousand years ago. Makes sense the droids would speak it too. In fact, I remember having to learn the language when I was younger. Mother wanted genetic samples of some rare seaweed from another world and the trip involved lectures in the language among other things. Now was that a coincidence or was that planned by the Force?

As for how to answer, I saw three real options. First was to identify myself as a Sith under the assumption that this was a Sith facility and hope I could fake it enough the droid would buy it. Second was to claim to be a Jedi on the chance that this facility may not have been Sith or could have been developing weapons against the Sith. There was also the possibility that the Sith would recognize that allowing a Jedi to enter four thousand years after everyone left was a nonevent. Third was to respond with violence. While I did not doubt that we could defeat the three droids if it came to that, I would rather avoid that if we could. Besides, if I could get the droids to regard me as an authority, then more stuff to loot.

So I decided it would be best to announce myself as a Jedi, while a small fib, it had more truth to it than the Sith nonsense. The droid, expectedly, told us to wait as it awaited for instructions from some authority. I will have to thank my Sith Master for teaching me the value of patience (no one else had managed up to that point), as it took over an hour for the droid to work through it’s list of authorities and finally reach an entry at the bottom for Jedi. I shall have to review the rest of the list at some point to see what insight it might give to the organization here and among the Sith back then.

Now I had three droids acknowledging me as an authority figure. I informed them to treat the rest of the party as my team and to give me what information they had on the site. Turns out the things knew very little that we did not already know other than they were guarding a ship, and had no clue as to what lay below the facility. I directed them to map out the area and report back to me anything of value or considered a threat. That got them buzzing off to comply, and we went about looting more parts out of the derelict ship they had been guarding. More gold plated parts. Alright, someone went to a lot of expense to place this facility here as opposed to somewhere safer and cheaper like space near a world with better access to parts and metals. I mean yes, this world is remote and hard to find, but it doesn’t have sufficient metals to sustain a heavy industry. All of this had to be imported. Something about this place was considered to be valuable enough to invest building here. But what? I suspect the answer lies deeper in the facility underground.

Most disturbing of all though has been the implication that these Sith, or minions of the Sith as the case may be, were completely and utterly insane. Not only were they willing to create horrific bio weapons of mass destruction, but they lost control of one. The current Sith wage a war of conquest and conversion, not extermination. What were they fighting against that they felt the need to go to such lengths? Could it be that some lost order of Jedi or other Force users posed that much of a threat? It would be best to learn more of the circumstances of the war four millenia ago I think. It is sad when I think the Sith Master that forced me to kill the other survivors of the Naichron and then brutally trained me is relatively sane compared to these nuts.

Well time to surface again, let the others dig around the lower sections for now. The indication that some of what they may find down there being valuable seems to entice them to be careful with the weapon discharges. Meanwhile I am going to stay up top for a while, something else is bothering me and I can’t put my finger on it. The story of wanting to work on my lightsaber using the gold we found is to keep them from asking too many questions while I ponder this. Not that I am not going to work on my lightsaber, gold resonates well with the crystal and the titanium I have been using isn’t quite working right.

Best to report in to Telera, Khadim, Garyan, and 10CH to see how repairs are going. Something is coming, and I feel the other shoe is about to drop. I want to be able to leave as fast as possible should I not like what happens.

Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Memories of Home

   Here we have another (somewhat tweaked) item from the player of Kira Keldav – who is also kindly helping fill in for me while I’m away and may not have internet access.

   My brother says “If you do not see the inherent contradiction in a person and recognize it for what it is, then you don’t really know that person.” While I do not fully agree with him, I do see the wisdom in his words. Nichel is also fond of pointing out my seeming contradictions and then trying to explain them. It bugs the hell out of me and he knows it. It doesn’t help matters that he has a disturbing sense for the truth.

   The truth is I was not hardened as some orphan living on the streets trying desperately to survive. There is no sad or desperate story in my background to help explain my current situation. Instead I grew up in a fairly normal (if well to do) neighborhood on Alderaan of all places. I have normal enough parents and siblings, and my childhood wasn’t particularly difficult or deprived, although my mother may beg to differ as to how much trouble it involved. Not the type of background you would expect for a survivor who is currently on the run from multiple criminal syndicates, the Sith, the Jedi, the planetary authorities of several worlds, at least two sets of bounty hunters, and the Republic. When people think of Alderaan, they think of Senators, artworks, and beautiful landscapes, not battle hardened fighters.

   But yes, it would be accurate to say I did not fit into life on Alderaan. I never really did – at least once out of infancy – and I probably never will even if I survive to return there. Some of my friends and classmates suspect that it is the albinism that has separated me from others. Given the number of human variants to be found across the galaxy, having white hair, yellow eyes, and pale skin is rather tame in comparison to some of the exotic human variants I’ve encountered. No, my roguishness comes from the fact that I just do not fit into Alderaan society on a personal level. The place is just too idylic and too quiet, like a well tended garden. Who knows, maybe it is the fact I spent much of my childhood hauling seed bags around in far too many gardens that has given me such an aversion to the setting.

   Not that I don’t miss my family and friends. Alderaan is still home to me, and that is hard to replace. I just don’t fit in well there. The residents I’ve been able to get along with best are my siblings, Sabrina and Nichel, and my friends Dorothy, Barcos, and Nathan. While we used to pull pranks and get into mischief together all the time when we were little, times change – and we all grow up. Sabrina has been able to put that scheming mind of her’s to use in medical school and Nichel is well on his way to using his charisma and the family business to work his way into the upper echelons of Alderaan society.

   My friends Dorothy, Nathan, and Barcos have probably all graduated by now and gone off to pursue whatever careers they were studying for. The memories of the fights, pranks, and suspensions will fade into the past they try to forget as they go on with their lives. Can’t really blame them either, those types of things are ones you don’t want brought up by prospective employers. My returning would only make their lives more complicated. They are all finding their own paths in life that lets them fit into Alderaan society, although we occassionally would get together to make Sabrina’s latest ex-boyfriend suffer greatly or some other bit of mischief.

   As a youngster, my major redeeming skill was I usually beat up bullies for the lunch money they stole from the weaker kids. Trying to carry this into adulthood has met with the expected lack of acceptance from society and the authorities. Officer Larson “suggested” I look into joining the Alderaan security forces one of the times he had to pick me up. Indeed it was he who recommended to the Judge that I be pushed into the service instead of another punishment, feeling that I might do well in a more assertive environment.

   Do I blame Larson for my being on the Naichron when the Sith Armada took it out of action and captured many of the crew? I don’t think so. I do think that he was trying to put me on a better path than the one I was on – or that he might just have been trying to get me out of his hair. It was hard to tell sometimes; there was more than one night he was most displeased to see me at the scene of his latest call… I wonder what he is doing these days now that he doesn’t have to respond to bar fights involving me?

   Then there was Mrs. Beasley, the old next door neighbor (hard to say how old, that wrinkly little green species is supposed to be pretty long-lived) that continually insisted that I was up to no good. She was right only about a quarter of the time – although I must admit the tales of me supposedly trying to poison her cat always brought a smile to my face at the sheer absurdity of it (although I suspect Mr. Beasley might have had something to do with it, he hated that cat). Hmm, going back home might be worth it if only to see Mrs. Beasley’s reaction at my becoming a Sith – or at least an escaped Sith apprentice. She would probably say she always knew that I was going to turn out rotten.

   The women in my life have largely been forgettable. Most of them have been mainly so that I had something to do on weekends that didn’t involve seeing Officer Larson. There might have been one or two that could have gone differently had they not had preconceived notions about what kind of person I was. I already have enough to face as it is with trying to explain my being Sith-trained Force user to my family and friends, let alone having some girl to try to explain to. I suppose I should be thankful for the small favors in life. Dealing with my mother, Sabrina, Dorothy, and now Telera is quite enough I think.

   So what contradictions might one see in my life? That despite the extraordinary circumstances I have survived in the last eight months, my life was pretty normal before that? Could it be that, as much as I hate what has happened to me, a part of me is grateful for it? At the least, my life will no longer be defined by the string of failures back home. Perhaps it is simply that, as much as I didn’t fit in, and will probably never fit in, there is still a very large part of me that wants to live a “normal” life – and to be able to go home.

   Does that make any sense to you? It does to me, and if you don’t understand this, then I can’t say that you really know me at all.