Recordings from the Holocron of Valerie Soung – Sparring

   Here we have another somewhat edited bit from Kira’s player – more on how it goes when you’re an involuntary Sith apprentice.

   Valerie Soung, Trayus Academy, Malachor V

   I woke the next morning feeling better. My shoulder and arm were stiff from the wounds and bacta, but at least I still had all my limbs. Faer was looking towards another week before his legs were usable again. Reattaching limbs was a tricky process that never seemed to go smoothly.

   Getting cleaned and dressed was a chore as lifting my right arm sent a shot of pain running through my body. Once I finished I went out into the halls towards the kitchen. I found Mother there reading some list Thelos had given her.

(Mother) How is the shoulder?

(Valerie) It’s fine. A few days and it too should fully heal. The fresh bacta has integrated well enough.

(Mother) So Jurin was a changeling?

(Valerie) Yep, no one had any clue this whole time. I’m surprised no one had caught on to this fact.

(Mother) I’m more concerned about who sent him. Force sensitive changelings are not common, even with an entire galaxy. Someone lost a very valuable pawn last night.

(Valerie) Isn’t that being a bit paranoid? I thought it obvious he believed killing Kira and showing up me would make Father apprentice him?

(Mother) Perhaps you are right, but I prefer to assume the worst scenarios.

   I left Mother to her conspiracy theories. Father says he finds the habit endearing, but I felt enough was enough after the fourth book of that nonsense. Jurin had said something about not being interested in the apprenticeship any longer – but from that alone, he had been interested until something happened to change his mind.

   Thelos always made sure the staff had fruits and other snacks available at all times for grazing. I grabbed a few for breakfast before heading out into the plaza. Father was out here discussing something with the technicians. He stopped and came over to me when he saw me.

(Father) Are you alright?

(Valerie) I’m fine. I was careless is all.

(Father) I know you really don’t like hearing this, but you should carry your lightsaber with you more often. You don’t have to use it, but for incidents like last night…

(Valerie) I don’t want to hear about it.

(Father) Would be a real shame if Keldav ended up a better swordsman than you because of something so simple.

(Valerie) WHAT?

(Father) He has his own now, and it resonates with him quite well. The color is a bit odd, but I’ve learned to look past that sort of thing. He’ll be starting practice later today once he wakes up. I had been hoping for Faer to spar with him, but that won’t be practical for a while.

(Valerie) Your wanting me to try to spar with him again?

(Father) Yes, and you won’t have any choice in the matter. Last night was an embarrassment for you and for me. Faer is no longer my apprentice so his failure is his alone, but yours is another matter. I am beginning to wonder if we’ve neglected that part of your training so much that you don’t even know how to use one properly.

(Valerie) I refuse to spar with him and I know how to use one competently.

(Father) Valerie, grow up. I’ve catered to your pride long enough, it’s time to prove you can stand on your own.

   I stomped off and climbed aboard my speeder bike. Father was following me saying something or other, but I didn’t listen. The repulsor started with a roar and I took off out into the bay. Something thunked in one of the bags as I hit the water, but I ignored it.

   I can’t believe the nerve. Embarrassment? I was the top student at the Academy and had even been sent on a solo mission once already. At least I managed to injure Jurin and destroy his lightsaber with my bare hands, unlike Faer.

   To top it all off I was rescued by Kira of all people.

   I was in a foul mood and indulging myself by sinking into the Dark Side was not going to prove myself to Father. So I went further out to sea in an attempt to blow off steam.

   Driving out at sea can be soothing. Today the air and mist was cool as a storm was blowing in towards Trayus. The seas hadn’t gotten rough yet, nor had the rains started. It would probably be another few hours before things got ugly. I was hoping one of the behemoths beneath the waves might get delusions of grandeur and make a try at eating me. I needed the release, but nothing volunteered.

   Eventually I reached the sandbars that protected the coastline and brought my bike to a halt. On the largest sandbar I did see the remains of an encampment left behind by the local Gholh. An ugly crustacean species that had yet to master the most rudimentary tools. I had seen them a few times, but they always fled when they noticed me. Looked like this camp had been abandoned for over a week now judging by the signs. No trace of it would remain when the storm came through later today.

   Curiosity overwhelmed my anger. I don’t know why I decided to rummage through the remains of the camp. Maybe it was the urge to find something to show it was once here, or maybe I just wanted to see what they left behind. I doubt they would have treasures like what the Waklim considered trash, but stranger things have happened. A glint among the remains did catch my eye though. A bit of digging brought up a glass knife, probably crudely sharpened with a stone.

   Where did the Gholh learn to make glass? Maybe they had traded with the servants on this world. Or it could have been volcanic I suppose, although red was an odd color for that. Oh well, that was a mystery for someone who cared for that sort of thing. As I was putting the knife in one of the bags on the bike, I noticed something else inside the bag.

   My lightsaber.

   Damn it, Father must have thrown it into the bag when he saw me take off. I am not an embarrassment to the family. If I have to beat Kira senseless to prove that, I will.

   The ride back to the residence was rougher than the ride out. I set the repulsor to a higher setting to go above the increasing waves. Land came soon enough as I increased the throttle further. It had started to rain as I entered the plaza and parked the bike. Thelos was waiting for me already.

(Thelos) Ah, my Lady, your father is expecting you in the practice room. He has requested you bring your lightsaber when you come.

(Valerie) Fine, tell him I am on my way.

   I grabbed the lightsaber and the knife and headed inside. The practice room was never very elaborate. Thirty meters on a side and diagrams depicting various sparring positions were inscribed on the floor. Father and Kira were already in there waiting on me.

(Father) Glad you could finally join us. Now would you replace the powercell in your lightsaber and assume the basic position?

   The training power cells had current limiters on them to prevent any real cutting. You could still get a mild burn or shock, but you couldn’t lose something vital using them.

   Except your pride.

   I assumed the basic stance position and Kira did the same opposite me. In a brightly lit room it was clear that his blade was transparent as far as my eyes were concerned. The violet corona prevented that from becoming a liability for me though, as it allowed me to track it visually. Kira was wearing gloves and long sleeves for this, smart.

   He didn’t even get a chance to block the first time as I rushed forward and slammed into him. I could hear Father sighing in the background, but I didn’t care. We resumed stances again and I made to repeat myself. This time he managed to block the blade but still failed to block the force of my blow as he landed on his back again.

(Kira) Oh this is just great, I can see this is going to be a great lesson in how to stand up repeatedly.

(Valerie) If you don’t like getting knocked to the ground, then I suggest you do something about it.

   Third attack had him trying to dodge to the side only to meet my foot as it came around in a kick. Fourth time he actually charged as I did and nearly managed to cancel out the force of my blow, at least until I pushed him over my leg and into the ground again.

   I had to admit, he was learning and trying different things to try and stop me. He never tried the same tactic twice. Too bad his skill with the Force was such a handicap that all the options he tried were hopelessly ineffective. Well, there was no way he’d learn if he didn’t have an obstacle to overcome.

   Practice continued on for a few hours with the occasional break. I wasn’t even trying to knock him down at times. His lip was busted and bleeding, rug burns on his arms and legs, and his left wrist was swollen after I bent it back for him a little too far. Plus there were numerous marks on his skin and shirt where the lightsaber had connected. My shoulder was getting sore from the repeated heavy use as well.

(Father) Valerie, that’s enough. He isn’t going to learn very fast if he ends up in medical after every practice. Keldav, you may leave.

   I watched Kira leave before speaking up.

(Valerie) He needs to learn he can be overpowered readily. If he doesn’t learn that, then he won’t have nearly the drive to improve.

(Father) I believe he is well aware of that now. But how is he supposed to become a good sparring partner for you if you keep beating him senseless?

(Valerie) I am not beating him senseless. He is actually improving. Or were you too worried about him to notice?

(Father) We begin again in the morning. Remember restraint, you are not the best in this house yet.

   Father walked off and left me in the practice room to myself with that. I asked Thelos to have my dinner brought to me there and resumed my own personal practices.

   The routines and styles have been more or less been static for millennia. Sure, some would have you believe there are numerous styles of how to wield a lightsaber, but those merely are collections of related techniques from what I have seen. Moving the blade to where you needed it when you needed it was the primary skill one needed to learn.

   Things changed a bit when you used two lightsabers or one of those double monstrosities. Two at once wasn’t bad if you were willing to trade power for speed, but the double-ended lightsaber made a mockery of tactical fighting. It was showy and looked good in the holos, but actually using it was asking for accidently chopping off your own leg or having your opponent attack the hilt and your hands. There were so many maneuvers you couldn’t use…

   If it wasn’t for the fact that it wasn’t their style, and was impossibly farsighted (and far too subtle) for them, I’d think that the appearances of the things in the holos were a long-range Jedi trip to lure would-be Sith into crippling their own fighting abilities. How many Sith had been indirectly taken down by holodirectors and scriptwriters giving them bad examples and advice?

   I’ve been meaning to quietly make a second lightsaber for those rare occasions I would need a spare or a second one. Plus there is always the hope that the color might come out differently, although I would never voice that aloud. Maybe next week when the pressure to perform these practices relaxes a bit.

   Dinner arrived and I ate there on the floor quietly. A thought occurred to me as I sat there looking at my tray.

(Valerie) Thelos?

   One of the holo-orbs floated out of it’s hiding place and projected the avatar image.

(Thelos) Yes my Lady?

   I pulled out the glass knife I had found earlier today. Luckily the practice hadn’t broken it like I feared it might.

(Valerie) Could you tell me about this? I found it out on the sandbar today.

(Thelos) That would be a knife belonging to the local gholh. The knives are called Yurglect or something similar, the vocal patterns do not translate well. As I understand, they use a special glass that forms in underground vents off the coast. Their culture places importance on them similar to how the Sith place importance on their lightsabers.

(Valerie) Really? Any Force powers associated with them? Like some primitive Force cult?

(Thelos) No such record unfortunately. I suspect the population is too small to support such a cult.

(Valerie) What do they use them for then?

(Thelos) Records indicate various rituals and ceremonies. A lot of them involve blood and forming “bonds”. A hunter that slays his first shark with one is said to have formed a bond that allows him to draw upon the strength and power of the slain shark. There are other rituals and ceremonies for many occasions and circumstances.

(Valerie) Enough, I don’t need to know all the details of their culture. I just wanted to know what it was. Could you bring some tools so that I can properly sharpen it?

(Thelos) As you wish, I must admit, everyone seems to be in a crafting mood this evening.

(Valerie) What do you mean?

(Thelos) Master Keldav has asked me to fabricate something for him by tomorrow morning as well.

   That was something to be concerned about. Was he trying to construct some sort of weapon or bomb? He might think himself better able to take care of things now that he has a lightsaber.

(Valerie) What exactly has he asked you to make?

(Thelos) All he wanted was a piece of plating with a handle and a strap on it. I didn’t see anything wrong with the request so I approved. Was I incorrect?

(Valerie) No, let it be for now.

   What in the galaxy did he want with a piece of plating? No matter, he probably had some trick up his sleeve he was wanting to try.

   A servant arrived shortly with the tools I had requested from Thelos. Setting myself down on the floor, I began the process of sharpening the glass blade. I had no idea why I was bothering with such a simple weapon. There were much more effective plastic and metal ones to be had with but a single request. Maybe it was just something to occupy myself, or maybe I saw something in that deep blood red glass that made me think of my own dreams of a proper lightsaber.

   After some work, some small cuts, and a little bit of swearing, I had something that could fit into my hand without cutting it to pieces. I also made a small sheath that strapped to my leg and then sheathed it. While it wasn’t a proper weapon for this day and age, it certainly could be useful in catching an opponent off guard – and no weapons scanner in existence would pick up something so primitive and fragile as a weapon. Another servant quietly came to remove the mess remaining from my work.

   With that done, it was time for study. I’ve been neglecting it for the last few days with the fighting and all. Mother would get on my case in the morning if I didn’t follow through. So I went to my room and found the pile of books I was supposed to thumb through. One was on the 32nd Sith war and analyses of the Republic war effort, the second was on Hutt society and customs, and the third was on Alderaan.

   The 32nd Sith war looked like all accounts to be virtually identical to the 31st and 33rd and most every other Sith war to date. Big uprising of Sith with delusions of grandeur, followed by large defection or splintering of military forces and Jedi purges. Stupid and ineffective tactics ended up limiting victories while backstabbing slowly did more damage than the Republic military. Why did they all feel the urge to destroy planets or render them uninhabitable? Breaking fleets was far more productive. Right, on to the second book.

   Hutt culture was as vulgar and unrefined as I suspected. Faer did a lot of work out there in Hutt space as an assassin and apparently made some money at it. I just can’t respect a culture that glorifies smuggling cartels and organized criminal syndicates. There is something wrong with a culture when the Head of State’s primary qualification is how much spice he was able to smuggle through Republic customs at one time. Although I will admit watching the last Huttese “election” four years ago was most entertaining, if only for the exasperated Republic customs officials caught in the middle of it.

   Last book was on Alderaan. It looked like the most pastoral and boring planet in the galaxy. Which is really saying something for a world so prominent in galactic affairs. The whole planet was a piece of art in many ways too. They even painted the grass? I can’t imagine what a hell that would be like to grow up in. I rather live in Hutt space, at least something exciting happens there every so often. I was about to put the book down in disgust when I saw a note Mother had put on it that I had overlooked earlier.

   <Keldav is from here>

   From Alderaan? Well that explains the complete lack of any real combat experience. This also puts a completely different spin on things too. I just could not fathom how someone like him could have grown up there and survived. I would have figured the locals would have killed him for being a smart ass at some point. He’s nearly been killed for that here at least three times, and it’s only been six weeks.

   As curious as the whole thing was, I really didn’t want to dig around in his past. He was annoying enough, I didn’t want to be reading about him too. I climbed into bed and fell asleep. This time I dreamed about miniature Hutts digging holes in colorful fields of grass – much to the annoyance of some farmer.

   Morning came quicker than I wanted it to. There are days like today I really want to destroy the sun just so I could sleep a little longer. Father would probably throw a fit if I did that.

   Sleep late that is. Destroying the sun would be going just a bit overboard, as amusing as the thought was.

   Getting cleaned up wasn’t pleasant either. My left arm was still sore and my right shoulder wasn’t happy if I raised my arm too high. I probably needed to have them both looked at again this morning and see if everything was working alright. I shuddered at the thought that they might have to scrape off the bacta again. That wasn’t something I wanted to experience again.

   That new servant girl of mine, Gab was her name I think, was waiting for me with a new change of clothes for the day and breakfast. I had completely forgotten about her, but Thelos didn’t. Hopefully he had her fully trained, or else this was going to be a long and frustrating experience. She did make motions to help me dress when I appeared in pain but backed off when I glared at her. Appearing weak would only invite an attack, if not now then later.

   The medic didn’t have anything constructive to say about my injuries other than my body was still having a bad reaction to the contaminated bacta they had scraped off. That was preventing the pure bacta from synchronizing completely. When I expressed concern over it, they did explain that once my body healed completely, bacta should be able to synchronize fully again. At least Jurin didn’t leave me with a long-term problem.

   Being tutored with Master Incrid followed after that. These days the tutoring involved trying to balance multiple independent tasks at once. There were some prodigies able to solve geometric puzzles, hold their body temperature at ambient, and feel how many people were in a specific building at the same time, but I always struggled with splitting my attention that way. Father had hoped that my ability to fracture my mind meant I could fracture my attention, but to no avail. This was probably a waste of Master Incrid’s time and mine.

   Soon enough it was time to spar with Kira again. When I arrived I was surprised to see Kira already there adjusting this large metallic plate strapped to his arm. Ah, he was wanting to use it as some sort of shield then? Well it might help with the sparring practices, although I doubt it. It certainly wouldn’t stand up to full powered lightsabers for long. Father appeared frustrated and annoyed about something or other.

(Valerie) Father, are you really going to let him try and use that thing?

(Father) I’ll allow it long enough to see what he thinks he is going to do with it. After that I will make a final decision.

(Kira) Oh come on, it’s just a shield, how bad can it be?

(Father) If you end up using it as a crutch and can’t show it’s use to be effective, then I am going to ban it.

   We assumed the same positions as yesterday. It was clear he was going to try and block with the shield while attacking with the lightsaber. The problem was a lot like using two lightsabers at once, you could attack or block more quickly, but lost stopping power. Ergo, a heavy enough attack would power through that defense.

   I charged like before right at him. As predicted he moved to block with the shield with the lightsaber right behind it thrust forward. One good hit of my own should send the shield wide and knock him off balance so that he wouldn’t have a clear shot.

   My lightsaber and then my body impacted the shield hard. Unlike a blocking lightsaber, it seems that the wielder’s own body weight can help to more effectively block an attack with a shield. This much was made clear as my shoulder groaned from the impact. I am taller and more powerful than Kira, but I suddenly realized I didn’t have the same mass. I barely had time to register the thrusting blade coming right at me before I jumped back.

(Father) Sigh, you failed to land a hit, but since you did finally manage to block Valerie I will allow the shield for some more time.

(Valerie) Yeah, now you can at least stand after an attack.

   I saw a flicker of annoyance in Kira’s eyes that he quickly suppressed. He’s fighting using his head and isn’t allowing his emotions to run rampant. There might be hope for this one yet.

   Several more hours of back and forth, we actually began to make progress through different stances and techniques. Adjusting to the shield became easier and easier as the day went on. First lesson was not to throw my weight against it while he’s prepared for it. Second was not to try and knock it aside, as putting enough force behind that required leaving myself too open to counterattack. Finally, I learned that ignoring it was asking for a shield butt to the face. I had been holding back how deeply I tapped into the Force until then, but the shield to the face had to be answered.

   He couldn’t keep up with my speed or enhanced strength at that point, and flailed around trying to land a hit for a bit before falling back into a more defensive position. With the initiative surrendered, it became a simple matter to dismantle his defenses and ram into him hard. Kira fell to the floor with a skid and I heard a crack of bone.

   At first I thought I had damaged my shoulder again, but seeing Kira hold his limp left arm, I saw that I may have pushed too far this time.

(Father) Valerie, in the future I would like for you to hold off on enhancing your durability, until Keldav can match you. In the meantime, resume the practice. Keldav can learn to avoid being attacked instead of blocking.

   With Kira having a broken arm? No way he would be able to keep up much longer at this rate. It was finally beginning to get interesting and this happens. Looking at Kira I could see something hard in his eyes as he looked at me and Father. The Dark Side? No, this was something different: disgust.

   Kira removed the shield from his broken arm and then retrieved his lightsaber. Practice resumed again, and I saw him try to raise his left arm out of reflex on more than one occassion. I tried to focus on his right side where the lightsaber was, but the urge for him to swing and block two handed was apparently strong. Without thinking I knocked his feet out from under him and watched as he fell on his left side with another crack.

   Now his arm was a swollen mess with the additional odd angle in it. Sparring practice was over for certain now. Father got up and left without a word leaving us there. Kira was trying to get up, but couldn’t manage the effort. He was going into shock.

   Well, chalk up one more lesson for today; it was hard to restrain your own reflexes once you’d trained enough.

(Valerie) Thelos!

(Thelos) Yes, my Lady?

(Valerie) Call the medic, I will meet him at his office. Tell him Kira is needing medical attention.

(Thelos) As you wish. The medic will be standing by when you arrive. Shall I call a servant to carry Master Keldav?

(Valerie) No, I will carry him.

   I went to pick up Kira when he lashed out at me.

(Kira) I’m fine, I can handle this on my own.

(Valerie) Right, just like how you can stand right now?

(Kira) I just need to better focus on ignoring it. So leave me alone.

   He was coughing and wheezing too, probably a rib had punctured a lung then. No way he was going to make it on his own with his level of skill. If he wasn’t going to cooperate, then I had to make him aware he had no choice in the matter. A swift punch to the jaw knocked him unconscious and he sank back to the floor. Grabbing his good arm, I lifted him up and carried him towards the medic’s office.

   Gab met us partway there and helped by grabbing Kira’s legs. The medic was waiting in his office as Thelos said. One look at Kira was enough to get him moving and he began treatment. I watched for a while before I convinced myself to leave.

   That was weird. Why did Father push so hard today? I figured he was going to call it after the first break, but he kept us going. Was he testing my ability to restrain myself? Or was he using this to push Kira to try harder in order to survive? Then there was that look of disgust on Kira’s face. I am not even sure what that was about.

   Was he punishing Kira for some failure? While unorthodox, Kira’s sparring practice today seemed to go well until I injured him. So that can’t be it. His Force control is growing if slowly, the lightsaber seems to have acted as a catalyst of sorts there. So what was he doing wrong? His emotional control is even pretty good as he never once pulled on the Dark Side.

   The Dark Side.

   Kira never pulled on it. He hasn’t pulled on it the whole time I’ve known him. He’s always either been hiding behind that annoying bravado or pulling more of that suppression bit he did today. So Father hasn’t broken him yet?

   Now that is interesting.

   Kira has been here for weeks. He has no Jedi training whatsoever so anything he has learned about the Force, he learned here. He’s been put into life and death situations and hasn’t even flinched. He has even killed with his own hands. Something is going on here and Father is having trouble overcoming it.

   I may need to pull out that book on Alderaan again. I suspect the reasons Kira is the way he is reside on that world.

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d20 Dreamspawn – Oridon and Yinsloth

   Oridon was a child that nobody – at least nobody since his parents were killed – wanted. After a little time on the streets, he envied the beasts. They, at least, had fur to keep themselves warm and fangs to defend whatever food they found.

   He dreamed of finding one that was willing to befriend or help him – a childish dream, featuring a “beast” that was a curious mixture of a human caregiver and a savage, protective, canine – or of becoming a beast himself.

   There was a loose sense of community with the other street children, but there was little they could do to help each other save to pass on the occasional warning.

   He didn’t get one of those warnings in time.

   He was backed into a blind alley, trapped by some of the local thugs who were willing to prey on the street children, when the terrible guardian beast of his fancies DID appear to help him! It got very, VERY, bloody in that alleyway – and the yanked-out entrails and ripped-off body parts were kind of gross – but it left him with warm clothing (much better than his old clothing, even with all the stains), and a good knife, and some weapons and things he could trade for supplies, and even a few actual coins.

   Enough to eat all he wanted for a bit, even if he didn’t seem to need to eat much any more.

   He still isn’t sure that Yinsloth or the thugs didn’t actually kill him in the melee. He certainly took some hits, and there were certainly enough body parts scattered around to have included his, and surely only ghosts were as invulnerable as he suddenly seemed to be – but if he was dead, it wasn’t so bad after all.

   Later on, Yinsloth showed him that he could enhance the other street children as well. Now they could take care of themselves, and fight back when people hurt them, and get food to eat and stay warm on the streets…

   Oridon is a fairly typical, ragged, kid – although, unlike most of the other street kids, he’s no longer particularly skinny, sickly, or showing any injuries. In fact, if you watch him carefully, he now moves with the speed, agility, and power of a wild beast – simply because he’s invariably channeling a dire wolf spirit (he’s pretty strongly addicted to the extra strength and power by now). He’s more than a bit feral, is no longer afraid – and is very definitely the pack leader. Yinsloth will accept nothing less for his bondmate.

   The other five or six children in his “pack” are almost as addicted, even if they are only being imbued with normal wolf-spirits. Still, now they have an excellent chance of living to grow up – and enough power to strike back at their various tormentors.

   Yinsloth is a bestial monstrosity, with a wolflike head on the body of a great ape, black and greens striped fur, massive talons, and eyes made of fire which emit curls of sulfurous smoke. He is definitely male, and weighs somewhat more than three hundred pounds, putting him into the “large” size category, if just barely. He commands a variety of animalistic abilities – most notably, the ability to imbue people with animal spirits, greatly enhancing their abilities. When he’s following along in another dimension, he merges into any nearby shadow, wherein an alert observer can occasionally catch glimpses of his burning eyes.

   Yinsloth – thanks to his channeling abilities – understands Dire Wolves pretty well. He doesn’t do so well with humans, but a lot of the basics are similar. His bondmate and his bondmate’s pack need food, water, warmth, shelter, and territory. Those who attack them, or attempt to deny them the things they need to live, are enemies to be savaged or killed. Concepts like “money” or “law” don’t really make an impression – and, to be fair, it’s not like Oridon or the other kids have often been on the upper side of either.

   Yinsloth would rather prefer that his bondmate and his bondmate’s pack abandon civilization to live free in the wilds – but hasn’t had much luck persuading any of them of that. It may happen if things get too tough in the city though.

   More subtly, Yinsloth now has a backup of sorts. If something does happen to Oridon, despite Yinsloth’s efforts, there’s a pretty good chance that the rest of the pack would take up the slack and sustain him; after all, he’s quickly becoming well-embedded in their imaginations as well.

   Oridon, Yinsloth, and the rest of the pack can represent quite a dilemma for a group of player-characters. They’re increasingly dangerous and feral. They’re losing their compunctions about killing – a number of people who threatened or hurt the street children have probably disappeared already – and are functionally a pack of young human wolves running wild in the city streets. They aren’t evil, but morality has little hold on them now. Rumors are spreading. The law would want them all executed. The priests will want Yinsloth exorcized, and the kids restrained (if not burned at the stake). Soon enough, quite a few of the surviving members of the local underworld will want them either dead or leashed (and under their control) as well. Perhaps fortunately, all of the kids are still pre-pubescent – but things may start getting even worse soon.

   Oridon

   Level Zero Human, Age 10.

   Available Character Points: 24 CP (Level Zero Base) +10 (Disadvantages: Insane/animalistic instincts, belief that he might be dead, sees nothing wrong with associating with Yinsloth, Broke, and Dependent/addicted to wolf-powers) +6 (Racial Bonus Feat) +3 SP (Racial Bonus) = 40 CP and 3 SP. Of those, the points for the racial bonuses have not been allocated; they’re available for a bit of customization or can be readily dropped in favor of using a different base race.

  • Age adjustments: Str -1, Dex +1 (Preadolescent).
  • Rolled Attributes: (4d6, keep 3): Str 09, Int 12, Wis 12, Con 16, Dex 10, Chr 15.
  • Net Attributes: Str 08 (24*) (+7), Int 12 (+1), Wis 12 (14*) (+2), Con 16 (24*) (+7), Dex 11 (15*) (+2), and Chr 15 (+2).

   Combat Statistics:

  • Initiative: +2 (Dex)
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +2 (Dex) +3 (Natural Armor) +4 (Armor*) + 3 (Martial Art) = 22
  • Move: 30 +20 +30* = 80
  • Hit Points: 3 (L0 Base) +12 (2d6 Magic) +10 (2d8 Wolfspirit) + 35 (5x Con Mod) +2 (4 CP invested towards a larger level one hit die) = 62
  • Damage Reduction: 10/Psionics
  • Energy Resistance: 20, 10 versus psionically-generated energies.
  • Saves: Fort +12, Ref +10, Will +6 (using Yinsloth’s saves).
  • BAB: +4 (Wolf), +2 with natural weapons.
  • Attacks:
    • Natural Weapons: +13/+8 (+4 BAB +2 BAB/unarmed or natural weapons +7 Str), 1d8+7 (Str), Crit 20/x2. Combat Reflexes.
    • Thrown Rock or Small Knife: +6 (+4 BAB +2 Dex), 1d3 +7 (Str), Crit 20/x2, 10′ Range Increment.

   Special Notes: Need not Eat, Drink, Sleep, or Breathe, effectively immune to poison*, Fast Healing I (up to 20 points/hit die/day)*, Protection from Law*, and True Strike 3/Day*. All use-activated.

   Effects marked with an “*” are subject to dispelling and antimagic versus caster level one – but will come right back again next round.

   The dire wolf spirit provides Trip, Low-Light Vision, Scent, Alertness, Run, Track, Weapon Focus (Natural Weapons), and a +2 bonus on Hide, Listen, Move Silently, and Spot.

   Yinsloth – like all Companions – bestows 6 CP worth of bonus abilities: in his case +1 BAB, Specialized in Unarmed Combat (3 CP), Immunity to any need to find a teacher to learn a martial art (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial, 1 CP), and +2 Skill Points in a martial art of choice (2 CP).

   Purchased Abilities:

  • Companion with two levels of Template and Might, Specialized/Yinsloth tends to be less than controllable, to bring Oridon things that he thinks he needs, to casually murder anyone who he perceives as a threat to his bondmate, behaves like a dangerous wild animal, sees absolutely nothing wrong with addicting children to his powers to turn them into suitable subordinates for Oridon, and rather enjoys ripping people to shreds. He’s more than a bit short-sighted too; getting through today is generally enough for him (12 CP).
  • Proficient with Simple Weapons (3 CP).
  • +1 BAB, Specialized/unarmed or natural-weapons combat only (3 CP).
  • Adept: Pays half cost for the Spot, Survival, and Yaachaka Shuuro skills (6 CP).
  • +4 Skill Points (4 CP).
  • +4 CP invested towards a larger hit die at level one. That’s a minimum of a d8 so far. This counts as “Toughness” – providing +2 HP – at the moment (4 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus/Long Practice: May add his (Con Mod) to his (Dex Mod) when calculating the basis for Dex-based skills (6 CP).

   At level one – if he lives that long – Oridon is likely to pick up Favored Foe (the Favored Environment variant), Berserker, a rather large hit die, a bit more specialized BAB, and a bit of healing – perhaps a Dex-based martial art with such an ability. He can reach high levels in such arts quite readily.

   Skill Points: 3 (Int) +3 (Race) + (CP Spent) = 10 (7 Spent).

   +2 bonus on Hide, Listen, Move Silently, and Spot while channeling that dire wolf spirit.

Skill Total Basis
Diplomacy: +3 1 SP +2 Chr.
Hide: +11 0 SP +2 Spirit +2 Dex +7 Con.
Jump: +31 0 SP +7 Str +20 Move +4 Run.
Listen: +9 3 SP [1, Adept] +2 Spirit, +2 Wis, +2 Alertness.
Martial Art / Yaachaka Shuuro: +14 3 SP [1, Adept] +2 Dex +7 Con +2 Companion.
Move Silently: +11 0 SP +2 Spirit +2 Dex +7 Con.
Sense Motive: +2 0 SP +2 Wis.
Sleight of Hand +11 0 SP +2 Spirit +2 Dex +7 Con.
Spot: +9 3 SP [1 Adept] +2 Spirit, +2 Wis, +2 Alertness.
Survival: +6/+10 3 SP [1 Adept] +2 Wis, additional +4 Bonus when tracking by scent.
Tumble +11 0 SP +2 Spirit +2 Dex +7 Con.

   +3 Skill Specialities: Begging (1 SP), Home City Knowledge (1 SP).

   Martial Art: Yaachaka Shuuro – The Beggars Guard (Dex).

   Yaachaka Shuuro isn’t an especially formal martial art. It focuses almost purely on evasion – the fine art of dodging, twisting away, and falling back, as well as on developing the skills needed to survive on the streets. It’s user’s normally attack only when there is little choice – or when there is a good opening for a cheap shot. There aren’t very many actual “masters” of Yaachaka Shuuro out there, but there are plenty of dabblers. Life on the streets is tough enough without seizing any advantage you can get.

  • Requires: At least one year spent on the streets as a beggar, having nearly been beaten to death at least once, and Weapon Focus/Unarmed combat or the point-buy equivalent.
  • Basic Abilities: Defenses 4 (“the nimble begger”), Synergy/Survival (“mastery of scrounging”), Synergy/Tumble (“using the crowd”), Synergy/Diplomacy (“buttering up the mark”), Synergy/Bluff (“the fast tongue”), Synergy/Escape Artist (“wriggling away”), and Toughness 2 (“roll with the punch”).
  • Advanced and Master Techiques: Mind Like Moon (“paranoid as hell”), Sneak Attack I (“hit em’ where it hurts”), Weapon Kata/Knife or Shortsword (“fang of the forsaken”), and Combat Reflexes (“the cheap shot”).
  • Occult Techniques: Inner Strength (“enduring survivor”), Ki Block (“strength of desperation”), Light Foot (“fleeing the authorities”), and Vanishing (“evade fate”).
  • Known Techniques: Defenses 3, Combat Reflexes, Mind Like Moon, Inner Strength, and Vanishing.

 

   Yinsloth

Hit Dice: 4d8+2d6 (12) +30 = 65 (+2d8+10) = 88 when spiritbonded)
Initiative: +3
Speed: 60′ (80’*), climb 60′.
Armor Class: 21 (–1 size, +2 Dex, +4 natural +4 armor +2 positive levels)
Base Attack/Grapple: +5/+16 (+6*/+17*)
Attack: Claws +12/+12 (+15/+15*) melee (1d6+8, Magic) (1d6+9)*, Bite +7 (+9*) melee (1d6+4 magic) (1d6+5* magic).
Space/Reach: 10 ft./10 ft.
Special Attacks:
Special Qualities: Low-light vision, scent, Extraordinary Returning, Spell Resistance 16, Unbound, Amorphous, Immune to Sneak Attacks and Critical Hits, Disturbing, Helpful, Need not Eat, Breathe, Drink, or Sleep, DR 10/Psionic, Energy Resistance 20, 10 versus psionicly-generated energies, Immunity to Poison, Fast Healing I, Protection from Law, True Strike (use-activated) 3/Day.
Saves: Fort +12, Ref +10, Will +6
Abilities: Str 23 (25) (27*), Dex 17, Con 18 (20), Int 8, Wis 14, Cha 7 (9*)
Skills: Climb +16 (+17*)(+8 racial bonus, may take 10 under stress), Jump +33, Listen +7, Spot +7, Speak Common, Knowledge/The Planes +0 (+2 bonus on Hide, Listen, Move Silently, and Spot*).
Feats: Alertness, +6 CP to spend. (Run, Track, and Weapon Focus/Natural Weapons*).

* These attributes apply when channeling a dire wolf spirit.

   Available Character Points: 12 (Positive Levels) +6 (Converted Feat) = 18 CP.

   Character Points Spent:

  • Metamagic/Persistent, Specialized and Corrupted/only to increase the duration of his spells to twenty-four hours, only for willingly-accepted inherent spells (2 CP).
  • Streamline x2, Specialized in Persistent (+3 Spell Levels – enough to go from one minute per level to one day), Corrupted/only for use with his innate spells, and only those that are accepted willingly (6 CP).
    • Before Yinsloth got his positive levels, and the +2 BAB, Saves, AC, and +12 CP that came with them, he only had +2 levels of Persistent – and could only grant spirits for six hours, not twenty-four hours.
  • Berserker (+6 Str, +2 Con when active, 6 CP).
  • Presence (aura provides those affected with a +1 morale bonus to attacks, saves, checks, and damage for the next [hit dice] rounds), Specialized/only works on those who are currently affected by the Inner Spirit of the Wilds (3 CP).
  • Specific Knowledge: Ritual of Lycanthropy. While Yinsloth is no ritualist himself, he does know (and can teach) a ritual that can turn the user into a chosen type of lycanthrope.

   Unique Powers:

  • Yinsloth – like all Companions – bestows 6 CP worth of bonus abilities: in his case +1 BAB, Specialized in Unarmed Combat (3 CP), Immunity to any need to find a teacher to learn a martial art (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial, 1 CP), and +2 Skill Points in a martial art of choice (2 CP).
  • Yinsloth’s Dread Caress (L3): As per Bestow Curse.
  • The Wild Spirit Breaks All Bonds (L4): As per Freedom of Movement. Thanks to his Metamagical talents, this lasts all day.
  • Curse of the Beast (L5): Baleful Polymorph.
  • Inner Spirit of the Beast (L6): Summon Nature’s Ally III, with the Channeling (Possession, +2 spell levels) and Extended Duration (One minute per level, +1 spell level) modifiers. If the effects of this spell provide notable physical enhancements – and they generally do – the effect is somewhat addictive. It also tends to provide a modest dose of animal instincts, but those are normally fairly readily handled. Yinsloth usually imbues his bondmate with a Dire Wolf spirit, while imbuing 4d4 of his bondmates street friends with wolf-spirits – leaving them notably enhanced, but still properly weaker and subordinate.

   A channeled spirit provides access to most of it’s extraordinary, spell-like, and supernatural abilities, any attribute modifiers which are above the host’s own, and one-half the creatures hit points.

   In most cases, Yinsloth is imbuing normal human children with wolf-spirits. Given that they basically don’t have any worthwhile abilities, they simply get most of the wolf-abilities: +2 Str, +4 Dex, +4 Con, +2 Wis, +(1d8 + Con Mod) HP, Speed 50′, +2 natural Armor, +1 BAB, 1d6 Natural Weapons with Weapon Focus, Trip, Low-Light Vision, Scent, and Base Saves of at least Fort +3, Ref +3, and Will +1. They can also, of course, tolerate living outdoors as well as wolves… They make a reasonably formidable pack.

   His bondmate’s Dire Wolf Spirit provides +(2d8+2x Con Mod) HP, Speed 50′, +3 Natural Armor, +4 BAB, 1d8 Natural Weapons, Trip, Low-Light Vision, Scent, Str +14, Dex +4, Con +6, Wis +2, Alertness, Run, Track, Weapon Focus (Natural Weapons), and a +2 bonus on Hide, Listen, Move Silently, and Spot.

   Since Yinsloth shares the effects of his spell on his bondmate, he also gets some bonuses – although his higher bases almost eliminate some of them. He gets: +(2d8 +2x Con Mod) HP, Str +2, Cha +2, Speed 50′, +1 BAB, Run, Track, Weapon Focus (Natural Weapons), and a +2 bonus on Hide, Listen, Move Silently, and Spot.

   Oridon and Yinsloth are a good example of the darker side of the Dreamspawn (as well as an extreme power-build, taking advantage of several of the best enhancements and power-multipliers in the game). Dreamspawn may protect their kids – at least in the short term – but it’s at the cost of making them distinctly other than human, social isolation, and potentially plunging them into horrible danger. If Oridon does make it to adulthood, he may well wind up as someone’s enforcer, as a bandit leader, or in some other semi-outcast role if he doesn’t wind up leading a savage tribe off in the wilderness. All you have to do is age them a bit – and presume that they don’t get any effective intervention – and you have a perfectly serviceable mad-werewolf-leader-thing, his pack of corrupted lesser werewolf-things, and his pet monstrosity to prey on the inhabitants of whatever area you decide to unleash them on.

   Now, if they do get that intervention, you’ll have a nice little special-forces group to send to track down any adventurer’s who haven’t learned to restrain themselves.

Recordings from the Holocron of Valerie Soung – Stalker

  • Valerie Soung
  • Trayus Academy
  • Malachor V

   The commons area cleared out slowly in the aftermath of my fight with Jurin. Servants came to clean up the mess I had made and to take away Jurin’s remains. Overall, the damage was minimal. The door from the classroom upstairs was going to need to be replaced, and some chairs and tables had been knocked over in the course of the fight. I was rather pleased with myself over that bit. The injury to my arm and my pride were another matter however.

   My left arm was burned from where the shield generator had burned out. I suspected Jurin had enhanced his lightsaber swing with a bit of Force lightning in order to overload the bracer. Luckily I had reinforced them with lightsaber resistant materials for just such an occassion. Unfortunately the electrical overload had damaged the circuitry and that had burned my arm. I shall have to talk to the technicians about that.

   Meanwhile one of the Academy medics had arrived and was busily trying to treat my arm. This was proving difficult for him as he was hesitant to touch me without my permission.

(Medic) My Lady, may I ask that you sit down for a moment please so that I may remove the device and tend to you?

(Valerie) Fine, do what you need to.

   We sat down on one of the couches nearby. He gently removed the bracer and began to apply ointment to the burn wound. I ignored the sting as my attention was focused elsewhere.

   Kira had managed to manipulate me into killing Jurin, that much was clear. How much he doctored the evidence was unclear at this point and in my mind of little consequence. It would be best to not underestimate him again. At least I only got a burn to my left arm and a hit to my pride for my hubris. The burn would heal shortly and my pride can be salvaged. Trying to reclaim my losses out of his hide was going to be counterproductive at best.

   The medic finished applying the bacta ointment to my arm after several minutes. I told him to send the remains of the bracer to my residence and flexed my arm a few times. Motion was stiff, especially around the wrist, but I would still be able to fight with it if need be. Forcing myself to be ambidextrous in my fighting styles was going to pay off. I promptly dismissed the medic and headed for my Father’s training room.

   Inside I could see Father informing Kira about the process of creating a lightsaber. He had already covered the basics of assembly some time ago, so now he was covering the importance of crystals. Kira’s Force training was still too rudimentary to handle natural crystals or loaner crystals with any degree of control. This was evident back when he and I first started trying to spar, the lightsabers he used would burn out quickly or even fail to ignite properly. With his life now on the line from numerous potential rivals seeking to replace him as my Father’s apprentice, getting him a lightsaber was the only way he was going to survive for long.

   No choice left but to grow a crystal specifically attuned to Kira then. That would give him enough of a grasp on the crystal that he should be able to maintain it. At least, that is what I assume Father was planning. There was enough going on that was unorthodox here that I couldn’t take anything for granted.

   I went to one of the weapons lockers and retrieved a replacement bracer and put it on. There was definitely some agitation around the wrist from wearing it, and the medic would probably protest the move too. Tightening the last strap sent of shot of pain up and down my forearm, but I did my best to ignore it.

   While Father lectured Kira, I took out my lightsaber and stared at it idly for some time. Kira had snickered and insisted the color of the blade was indicative I was repressing something when he saw it during our first practice match. The beating I gave him for that put him in medical for the nearly a week. Father lectured me about that for some time afterwards. Kira did treat me with a great deal more fear and respect after that though.

   If Kira manages to pull this off then I may end up with a sparring partner after all. That would be nice. Kira’s utter lack of skill will be a hindrance, but I get the feeling he will get better fast. Fighting me can be such a motivating factor.

   Suddenly I realized Father was speaking to me.

(Father) Valerie, are you done with classes for today?

(Valerie) Yes, although none were scheduled today anyway. I was going to work on my practice exercises this afternoon.

(Father) Those can come later, in the meantime I want you to help Keldav get his things and escort him to our residence.

   Ah, Father feared someone would try and take advantage of Kira’s weakness while the crystal formed. It would be easier to protect and watch over him at the residence than here. It would be interesting to see if Kira permanently moved in or if this was strictly temporary. That would definitely provide insight as to where Father thought Kira was going in all this.

(Valerie) Understood, come along Kira.

   I could tell Kira was nervous as he fell behind me. It was also obvious that he was looking me over from behind from what I could sense. There were some things which still made him typical at least. I would have normally glared, but he was nervous enough already. Best to let him stew for a bit and draw whatever conclusions he will.

   Once in his quarters he began to pack what possessions he had into a duffle bag. He didn’t have much: some training tools, a few sets of clothing, and a datapad. He did look at me for several seconds before reaching under his bed and pulling out a blaster and putting it in his bag as well.

   His bag packed, we left his quarters and headed outside. The commons went silent as we passed on our way. I could sense more than a few wanted to try their hand at Kira now that Jurin was out of the way, but dared not while I was with him. Protecting Kira was going to get old fast. No choice about it though.

   We had to wait for the hovercar to arrive outside. I could tell Kira was having difficulty with the morning sun. He was shielding his eyes with one hand while trying to cover as much skin as he could with the robe he was wearing.

(Valerie) What are you doing? Not used to a little sun after being indoors for so long?

(Kira) I’m an albino remember? Sunburn real easy and eyes are unable to filter light as readily ring a bell?

(Valerie) Are you getting smart with me?

(Kira) You have to ask?

(Valerie) I would have thought you smarter than provoking me after what you pulled.

(Kira) Why don’t you go ahead and get the thrashing over with? I know it’s coming.

   Ah, he was of the opinion I was going to revenge my pride over his manipulating me to kill Jurin. He wanted to get it over with so he was provoking me. He must not like the sense of impending doom then. He understood so little.

(Valerie) No.

(Kira) No?

(Valerie) That’s what I said, did you not hear me?

(Kira) Oh, going to let the wait drive me nuts then.

(Valerie) Jurin was someone that needed to die anyway for his foolishness. You just accelerated the schedule is all.

(Kira) Well I guess Sith killing each other is supposed to be routine.

(Valerie) Yes, and you’ve at least demonstrated you can do that much.

   Kira glared at me for that one. It was hard to tell why though. His thoughts were unclear on the matter.

   The hovercar pulled up shortly thereafter. The chauffeur loaded his bag into the trunk and we got in ourselves. Seeing Kira once again shielding his eyes against the sun, I had the windows darken some.

(Kira) Thanks. How’s the arm doing?

(Valerie) It’s none of your concern.

   I found myself absently rubbing my arm during the ride back to the residence, much to my annoyance. Luckily he didn’t see me do it as he seemed transfixed on the scenery outside the car. We arrived at the residence and I could see one of Thelos’s holo-orbs floating out in the plaza to meet us as we got out of the car.

(Thelos) Welcome back, my Lady. I heard you were injured earlier, shall I send for a medic to check on you? I must admit a certain concern for the quality of work the Academy medics provide.

(Valerie) That will not be necessary Thelos.

(Thelos) You will also be pleased to note that I have already informed the technicians of the deficiency in your bracer. A new design will be ready soon, and they will not make the same mistake again.

(Valerie) Good, I don’t like getting burned by fried electronics.

(Thelos) May I assume then that this is the young man your father spoke of this morning?

(Valerie) Yes, this is Kira Keldav, Father’s new apprentice. Kira, this is the residence’s computer system: Thelos.

(Thelos) Greetings Master Keldav and congratulations. If you need anything during your stay here, please let me know.

(Kira) Nice to meet you I guess.

(Thelos) Allow me to show you to your quarters here on the estate. Right this way please.

   I watched Thelos grab Kira’s bag with a manipulator and lead him off to the main house. Something about the whole exchange seemed off somehow, but I couldn’t put my finger on what exactly. My thinking was interrupted when a voice called out and startled me.

(Voice) So that’s the new guy is it? Seems a bit on the weak side if you ask me. Did I startle you?

   I could recognize the voice without even turning to look, is was Father’s former apprentice, Master Faer Rote. I really didn’t need this now.

(Valerie) And what are you doing here Faer? I thought you were doing assassination jobs for hire these days.

(Faer) My my, such hostility. If you must know, I am here as requested by your father.

(Valerie) Father asked for you?

(Faer) Yes indeed, it seems he’s concerned with that runt alive long enough to be useful. So he asked me to come and help keep an eye on him.

(Valerie) And how do we know you haven’t received payment to land a hit on him?

(Faer) You don’t, although angering Master Soung is not high on my list of things I would like to do. While I do enjoy coin, I am a Valen, little Val.

(Valerie) I thought I told you not to call me that.

(Faer) Sorry sorry. You’re all grown up now aren’t you? You even have your own pretty pink…

   Faer didn’t get a chance to finish that sentence as my fist connected with his face. The punch sent him flying backwards, but he righted himself in mid-air and landed on his feet with a skid. He was holding the side of his mouth gingerly.

(Faer) My, you do have some strength. You’d best watch that temper though.

(Valerie) Temper? I am not sure I understand what you mean. You are still alive aren’t you?

   His eyes narrowed at that before his cheery mask came back.

(Faer) Cute, well I best get settled in. Looks like I am going to be here for a while watching that kid.

   So Father had asked Faer to come keep watch over the place while Kira was here? That did not bode well. It implied Father expected more attempts on Kira’s life in the near future. The residence should be well protected from any of the other students having delusions of grandeur. So if not a rival student, a teacher then? A teacher or Master could certainly pose a threat to Kira even in here. But why would they bother?

   Probably more politics and posturing going on between the Masters at the Academy again. More than a few were upset with the family’s habit of making troublesome but talented students disappear from the rosters. One of them might even think of getting even with Father by eliminating his apprentice.

   Faer, for all his faults and greed, could at least be counted on as a fellow Varen. He occasionally needed reminding of that, but he would stand with Father on this. What was disgusting about it was that Faer had probably asked Father for payment to do this. Ungrateful, greedy bastard.

   Enough of that.

   It looked like the technicians had finished repairing my speeder bike. The fresh coat of paint had finished drying even. The black and red color scheme was quite catching. I would do well to request their services in the future should I need them again. I really wanted to take it out over the sea for a test ride but couldn’t leave before Father returned.

   I saw that Thelos was setting up the furnace out back and decided to have a look. Looked like Father had sent instructions ahead to prepare for making Kira’s crystal. One of the holo-orbs noticed me and floated over. He asked me if I needed anything and also informed me that Gab Kilnes would be ready to assume her duties the day after tomorrow. I had forgotten about her in all the fuss this morning. I shall have to think of something for her to do once she starts her duties.

   I heard a door slam behind me and saw Mother stomping out into the gardens away from the house. I really didn’t want to hear whatever had annoyed her this time, but she failed to give me the choice.

(Mother) The nerve of that ingrate! I do not understand why your father chose to apprentice that brat!

(Valerie) What has Kira done?

(Mother) Keldav? No, I’m talking about Faer dear.

(Valerie) Faer? What has he done?

(Mother) Stepping in like he owns the place, making demands of the servants, and disrupting the dinner plans.

(Valerie) He was always like that Mother. Did you really think he’d be any better now?

(Mother) I thought he would have learned proper respect for his patrons and their household. He could learn a thing or two from that Keldav kid.

   From Kira? Faer must have really gotten on Mother’s nerves for her to declare something like that. Maybe Father bringing him here wasn’t a good idea after all.

   Father came home a hour later and started the furnace up. He brought Kira out and began teaching him the process to make his own crystal. This was going to be a twelve hour process once started and it was agreed that Faer, Mother and I would take shifts keeping watch while Father assisted Kira. Mother went first, Faer went second, and I was third. Before my shift I ate a quick meal and had some rest.

   My dreams were troubled as I slept, although I could not remember them when I woke up later that night. My arm had healed nicely and no longer was stiff in the wrist anymore. It would still take a while for the destroyed flesh to regrow, but the bacta had fully integrated into my system in the meantime. Another three days and it should be fully healed.

   I pulled back my hair into a tail and grabbed a quick snack before heading outside to relieve Faer. I found him on the roof of the tool shed in a sensory trance.

(Valerie) How goes it?

(Faer) Something has been stalking around the perimeter off and on all night. Whatever it is has cloaked itself well.

(Valerie) Haven’t been able to corner it?

(Faer) No, I’ve been concerned whatever it is might be a lure to pull me away from the watch. So I’ve sat tight and not strayed far from the furnace.

(Valerie) And how is that going?

(Faer) Surprisingly well. Looks like it was a rough start, but the process seems to be getting smoother for the kid. That pattern feels a bit weird, but Master Soung doesn’t seem to be concerned about it.

(Valerie) Have you spoken with him about the prowler about?

(Faer) No, I figured it best to let him focus on the kid. I doubt he has missed sensing it though.

(Valerie) Well, it’s my turn at the watch now. Go do whatever it is you do these days.

(Faer) Suit yourself, although I think I may take this opportunity to see if I can’t flush out whatever is out there.

   I watched as Faer slipped off into the night and then assumed the stance for my own sensory trance. Slowly the world and Force around me came into focus. I could feel the energies swirling around the furnace as the crystal slowly took form. It appeared to be over two thirds complete now. I also could sense something felt odd about the pattern but couldn’t discern what.

   No matter, there was a prowler out there and I would do well to find him. It took a great deal of focus, but I could sense the occassional flare of Force potential from time to time. Faer was trying to hide his signature with markedly less success than whatever it was. I could feel a game of cat and mouse begin to take shape as the two danced out there in the darkness of the night.

   They had been at it for about a half hour when suddenly I felt a great burst of Force potential. Looked like whatever it was had ambushed Faer and was trying to kill him. Faer could take care of himself, and if he died, it was his own fault for getting trapped like that. Besides, I had to stay here an protect against this being a ruse to lure away the defenders. I powered on my bracers and prepared myself for combat.

   The attack came shortly thereafter. The only warning I got was a brief image of a lightsaber about to got through my chest only a moment before. A quick leap up and backwards got me behind my opponent while dodging the attack. Looking at my attacker I was stunned to see Jurin in front of me with a grin on his face.

(Jurin) You look surprised to see me again, Valerie. And here you came to see me yesterday morning. How could I not repay the favor?

(Valerie) What? How? I smashed your skull!

(Jurin) Now that would be telling now wouldn’t it? Just understand that I am far more talented than you realize.

   He was obviously alive, so that ruled out a Force ghost. Possession did not change the appearance of the possessed. Wait, he looks like he has lost weight from yesterday. It was possible the weight of the brains I smashed in was equal to the weight he has lost since then. A regenerator? It was possible, although even they took longer than a day to regrow lost body parts. Plus the loss of the head was still fatal.

   All internal debate of his nature came to an abrupt halt as an intense pain shot up and down my left arm. It took every ounce of concentration I had to keep from losing my stance, but I wasn’t going to be able to use my left arm in this state. What was happening? I know he didn’t land a hit on me just now, so why did my arm feel like it was on fire?

(Jurin) Now, that is better. Can’t have you using those fists of yours without restraint. You really should be more careful about how you treat yourself.

   More careful? When did he get a chance to hit my arm? it should be fine after the treatment from yesterday. Wait, he did wound me yesterday! But how could he be manipulating the burn from the electronics? That was treated with the bacta and should be well on it’s way to…

   The bacta. He had either contaminated the bacta before the fight and planned to lose, or he has found some way to manipulate bacta with the Force.

   He came to the attack while I was debating what to do. His arms seemed to stretch as he swung his lightsaber around trying to hit me. That was odd to watch. It almost felt like his Force pattern was shifting in sync with the changes in his body. A changeling? I had heard of such things, but assumed them to be purely legends and myths.

   Breaking bones and smashing tissue wasn’t having much effect on him. The flesh and bone seemed to reform as quickly as I could damage it. Plus that reach of his was getting really difficult to fight around with only one good arm. I had left my own lightsaber in my room again and was beginning to regret it. Attacking with Force lightning wasn’t going to work well when he can use the lightsaber to ground it out.

   My best bet was to attack his lightsaber directly. If I could destroy it, then Force lightning could do enough tissue damage to put a stop to this.

   His attacks were getting harder and harder to dodge effectively as he shifted more and more mass to his arms for increased reach. His ability to shift like this was adding a whole new level of complexity to predicting his moves accurately. Finally the move I had been waiting for arrived when Jurin launched an over head swing meant to cleave me from head to toe.

   It took more effort than I wanted to admit to dodge backwards fast enough to miss that blade. Racing forward I smashed my right fist into the lightsaber and shattered it to pieces in his hand. I enjoyed the look of shock in his face as he realized what had happened.

   The pain in my left shoulder was the only warning I got as his arm raced out and pierced it like a spear. I was hurled to the ground by the force of the blow and grunted in pain as the spear burrowed into the ground, pinning me there.

(Jurin) I’ll finish killing that weakling and show your Father that even beat his precious daughter can be beaten within an inch of her life. Don’t worry, I won’t kill you now. But I will make sure you learn proper respect.

(Valerie) My Father will never train a filthy degenerate changeling like you.

(Jurin) Hmm, now is that anyway to talk to someone with your life in his hands? You really need a lesson in proper manners with your betters. Besides, I don’t want the apprenticeship anymore.

   He ground his arm into my shoulder, causing fresh pain and blood to flow from the wound. I wasn’t going to lose consciousness, but my options were limited to say the least with both of my arms incapacitated. No choice then.

   Hitting him with lightning was easy given the fact he was currently impaled in my shoulder. Sadly that meant I was hit by the shock as well, but I was prepared for it at least. The agony of it all was intense, and I could tell I had hurt him from that attack. Problem was, I had taken all I could and he was still standing.

(Jurin) Pity, I had hoped to spare your life as a token for your father. No matter.

   He reared up and formed another spear with his other hand, preparing for a final thrust to kill me. Suddenly he stopped and was looking at his chest with a look of shock on his face. It took my eyes a moment to register what I was seeing.

   Coming out of a hole in his chest was something transparent surrounded by a violet corona. Jurin’s clothing glowed flourescently, as if illuminated by a black light. Then I heard the hum of a lightsaber.

(Kira) Now, now, the first mistake was picking a fight with Valerie. The second was not coming immediately after me. And the third was exposing what you are too quickly.

(Jurin) Bastard, I’ll kill you.

   Kira then proceeded to slice Jurin in half at the torso with a quick flick of his wrist. The upper half of Jurin fell to the ground next to his lower half.

(Kira) Now, from what I remember of the lessons. You will be unable to rejoin due to the damage from the burns. The part I also need to be concerned about is the one still able to think and talk. I assume that would be this half with the head then?

   Kira finished off Jurin swiftly. Turning to me he cut and pulled out the remains of Jurin’s arm and pulled me to my feet. I ended up leaning on him more than I wanted to, but my body was too weak.

(Kira) Consider us even Valerie.

(Valerie) What?

(Kira) You killed Jurin for me, and I killed him for you now. So we’ll call it even.

   I wanted to punch him. Too bad neither of my arms was working.

   We found Faer outside the residence. He was still alive, but had lost both his legs in the fight with Jurin. It would take time for those to be reattached and that meant he was staying with us for a while longer. More bacta treatments for me as well for the shoulder and neural tests for the lightning attack. Never mind the scrapping off the contaminated stuff off my left arm and reapplying fresh bacta.

   Oddly Kira ended up getting burns on his hands and face from somewhere. It puzzled us for some time before we figured out his lightsaber glowed in the ultraviolet and so he was getting sunburns. Thelos ordered sunscreen to be stocked regularly for the future.

   As I rested from the treatments, I pondered what I had witnessed. An ultraviolet lightsaber? I had never heard of such a thing, and neither had Father. Father was convinced it reflected something fundamental about Kira’s personality, but I remained unconvinced. After all, that same logic would say things about me I refused to believe.

   Two lightsabers, both unique as far as I could tell. What were the odds of both of them coming together like this? If something was directing the fates, what did it signify? These thoughts troubled me as I fell to sleep again.

   I dreamt of two legendary warriors dueling each other under a summer sun.

Recordings from the Holocron of Valerie Soung – Expectations

   And here we have another item from Kira’s player…

   Valerie Soung

   Trayus Academy

   Malachor V

   I left Keldav to his practicing. The odds of him improving enough to kill a proper Sith before the end of the week were slim to none. He certainly seemed resigned to his fate but was going to make a try anyway. I was impressed he didn’t come out and beg me to kill whoever it is for him.

   At least Father would have a proper apprentice soon. You either had to start the training young like I had or had started out as a Jedi to hope to get anywhere. These latents just had too much of a disadvantage with the lack of experience and training to hope to survive. The fool should have taken my offer, that would have allowed him to survive another three months at least. I guess the empty offer of a lightsaber should he make it was too tempting for him to pass up.

   My lessons for the day were already over, so I had the rest of the day to myself. Not really wanting to go home and have another argument with my Mother, I went to the commons to relax.

   The servants were still cleaning up the remains I had made earlier of the stupid low-life I killed. I did enjoy how the room went silent as people looked at me and the cleanup. That was the only way to get respect around here with all these new Sith running around. The former Jedi were the worst about it and needed the most reminding of their place. They think that because they can throw a tantrum now that they can wield the Dark Side.

   Pathetic.

   I grabbed one of the datapads and sat down on one of the empty couches nearby. A servant girl silently appeared to my side within moments.

(Servant) Lady Soung, is there anything I can get for you?

   As much as I wanted something alcoholic, this was neither the time nor the place to indulge. Too many of these idiots would try to seize upon the opportunity of my being even slightly intoxicated and pull something stupid. Not that I still wouldn’t win of course. I just didn’t want the hassle. Hmm, the girl was still waiting patiently or fearfully for an answer.

(Valerie) Bring me a cup of Kleck tea then.

(Servant) Yes, my Lady.

   Browsing the news revealed nothing of real import. Another attempt to push into the Core Worlds had been repulsed. No surprise there. The Republic fleet had the advantage of inside lines. The only reason Revan had such luck on his push was because he managed to make an end run around the fleet and got to Alderaan before anyone realized he was there. Republic reinforcements still managed to get there fast enough to repel him before he got a chance to assault the planet itself though.

   A message came up on the datapad from Father asking me to explain why I killed whatever his name was. Looked like Master Fuston really was upset over the whole thing and was taking the matter up with him. I think it serves him right for not teaching the idiot not to fondle someone more powerful than he was. I wrote a short and rather snotty response back on how Master Fuston needs to teach proper discipline and respect to his students. I did withhold the comment on how Master Fuston himself might benefit from learning proper respect. I’ll leave that for Father to determine.

   There was also an announcement of more “recruits” arriving this week. Rosters were already available and I spent some time perusing them. Who knows, perhaps one of them would make a suitable replacement apprentice for Father? Best candidate looked to be a Crasus Threen. Good amount of talent and had been Revan’s former apprentice no less. Too bad that meant Revan got first dibs on him again, but Revan might overlook this opportunity. Best to bookmark this one then. The only other one in the batch worth mentioning was another Jedi they picked up named Rena Olys. Experience and training was good, but the overall talent was lacking. The age was also going to be a factor. Well, bookmark her as well and make sure Father was aware this evening.

   Why was the blasted tea taking so long?

   A quick look around and I didn’t see her chatting with anyone. I considered ignoring it, but I was in a foul mood and wanted my tea. Annoyed, I put the datapad down and got up to have a look around.

   A quick search found the girl on the floor near the kitchen. It looked like two former Jedi were busily teasing the girl and tripping her up everytime she tried to stand up. I saw the cup of tea the girl had tried to bring me lying in pieces on the floor next to her. Stupid punks.

   I walked up behind one of them and hit him on the back of the head. He went face first into the floor while his buddy Whepley turned towards me while pulling a lightsaber.

(Whepley) Listen you pathetic little….

   The look of fear in his eyes as he saw who he was talking to was most satisfying.

(Valerie) Pathetic? You have three seconds to put away your lightsaber and leave that girl alone before I kick your ass.

(Whepley) What, you’re protecting her? Why?

(Valerie) Because I am tired of waiting for my tea. Plus holding her responsible for your incompetence seems counterproductive.

   His buddy Ulstin got up on the floor at that point. His nose was bleeding from the impact with the floor. He too pulled a lightsaber.

(Ulstin) Incompetence? Listen bitch, we don’t need to take anything from some girl not even carrying her lightsaber.

   I gestured to where the servants were now trying to sponge up the last bits of the idiot from earlier.

(Valerie) Well that’s funny, I recall that guy over there saying something very similar before I brained him with my bare hands. If you think you can do better than he could, then by all means, try me.

   Whepley looked over at the cleanup and I could see his resolve wilt away. Ulstin was too drunk on his anger and humiliation to think straight. He appeared intent on protecting his pride. I really didn’t need to add another kill to my list of things Father had to deal with right now. Too late to back out now though.

   My precognition sense of Ulstin exploded into myriad images of potential futures and possibilities. This was the hallmark of fighting another precognitive in battle. Unfortunately for him, his battle precognition was no where near as strong as mine so one image in particular stood out stronger and more defined as I saw further than he could. Looked like he was preparing for an overhead swing meant to slice me in half from collarbone to crutch followed by a horizontal swing to cut my remains in half again.

   It was a simple matter to step aside and smash my fist into his broken nose three times. Blood was streaming down his face and chest now and I could tell his vision was blurred significantly. Worst yet for the idiot, he had dropped his guard with his blade now at his side. A quick kick to his hand sliced off his own leg and I followed up with a another kick to the side of the head. Luckily for him, he dropped the lightsaber as he fell, otherwise he would have impaled himself from the fall. He still ended up on the floor unconscious and bleeding profusely though.

   I could hear the servants groan over yet another cleanup today. I ignored them.

(Valerie) I suggest you take your friend and his leg to medical soon. Otherwise he may well bleed to death on the floor there. Too bad he wasn’t as smart as you are.

(Whepley) Yes ma’am, thank you ma’am.

   I watched him drag his friend to medical. Once again, all eyes in the room were on me again. You would think they would learn after the first half dozen.

(Servant) Thank you my Lady.

(Valerie) Get me my tea promptly and I will overlook the delay. Someone else may clean up this mess. I will be returning to my spot.

(Servant) Yes, my Lady.

   A pair of giggling girls were sitting on the couch I had vacated. They quickly departed once they saw me. Well, it saved me the trouble of finding another couch to recline in where the servant girl wouldn’t find me.

   The tea arrived within moments of my sitting down. The girl probably was running right behind me. I acknowledged her delivery with a slight nod and dismissed her with a wave of my hand. Time to get back to reading again.

   The message board was filled with speculation and betting on Keldav’s upcoming demise. Favored candidate for his replacement was apparently Jurin of all people. I had serious doubts Father would take in that filthy degenerate. Jurin had taken becoming a Sith as an excuse to completely cut loose from all restraint whatsoever. Even animals had some sense of decency.

   Betting myself would only disrupt the odds as people would assume I had some sort of insider information, and it was hard to bet anonymously with so many computer experts around. Strangely Father has not spoken with me on the matter. I would have thought he had a candidate chosen already, but the only one coming forth to claim such a thing was clearly lying. Strange indeed, it must be that Crasus Threen kid after all and with a lot of back room bargaining going on with Revan.

   Nothing else on the network really caught my eye so I finished my tea and left. It was getting to be early evening and dinner would be ready soon. A driver was already waiting for me as I left the building. The ride to the Varen compound was short, but I got a chance to see the sunset over the star destroyer half buried at sea several miles out. The contrast was striking and I found myself staring at it as the hovercar pulled to a halt outside the Soung residence.

   I could see mechanics working on repairing my repuslor bike out in the courtyard. It was damaged during my last mission and I should have scrapped it and gotten another. Alas, I had grown attached to the thing and had insisted that it be repaired instead. The mechanics were taking their sweet time with it, but I didn’t complain given the meticulous care they were taking to repair it. Treat those who repair your stuff well Father would say. I just wish they would be finished already.

   Inside the residence, I could hear Mother and Father arguing over my latest kill. Mother was complaining about the political ramifications while Father was busily ranting about punks touching his daughter. Like he doesn’t understand I can take care of myself as I so demonstrated. Looked like news of the one I only beat up had not reached them yet. No reason to tell them just yet.

   The servants announced dinner was ready the same time Mother and Father noticed my arrival. Looked like roast bantha and assorted vegetables. We all sat down to eat.

(Mother) I hear you got into another fight today.

(Valerie) Can’t be helped, the fool grabbed me and needed to be taught a lesson.

(Mother) You killed him!

(Valerie) And he deserved no less for that.

(Mother) Now Master Fuston is demanding reparations for lost time from your father. The political ramifications of your actions…

(Valerie) Are moot. He should have taught his apprentice better manners when dealing with his superiors.

(Mother) His superiors? You and he were on the same level of training before you killed him. Just because he had less skill and power than you does not make him an inferior young lady.

(Valerie) No, being stupid enough to provoke someone able to readily kill him is what made him inferior.

(Father) Valerie, you need to watch your temper. Killing indiscriminately lowers yourself to the ranks of the common Sith. On the other hand, allowing him to touch you without repercussion can’t be allowed either.

(Valerie) Then what would you have had me do then Father?

(Father) Take away the hand that provoked the incident in the first place and then given it back as a reminder for the future.

(Mother) And how exactly was she to cut off his hand without her lightsaber?

(Valerie) Mother….

(Father) Cut it off? Have you seen what she can do? Ripping it off is well within her capacity.

(Valerie) Father!

(Mother) Oh yes, now that is a fine way for a lady to act in public, ripping off limbs like some wookie primitive.

   The argument ceased to involve me at that point as the two of them proceeded to discuss proper etiquette on taking someone’s hand off. I listened to them prattle on for some time before I decided my curiosity needed to be saked.

(Valerie) Father, who is the new apprentice?

(Father) What?

(Valerie) The new apprentice? You know, the one to replace Keldav when he dies? That degenerate Jurin thinks he has a shot, but I was wondering who had it for real.

(Father) You mean you haven’t figured it out yet?

(Valerie) What is there to figure out? You haven’t mentioned one and I cannot find any credible evidence that you’ve been searching for one either.

(Father) Sounds to me like you have figured it out.

(Valerie) You can’t seriously believe Keldav will survive this test?

(Father) Why not?

(Valerie) He doesn’t have the skill or power necessary to kill anyone that might be out to get him. It’s practically a death sentence.

   Father laughed at that, he laughed long and hard.

(Father) Oh yes, it is a death sentence, but for the poor sap in the kid’s way. He can be absolutely ruthless and cunning when he needs to be. You think he can’t win? That’s because you haven’t seen him get desperate.

   Desperation in my mind meant begging for assistance. Yet Keldav has done no such thing. Dinner finished soon thereafter and I retreated to our personal training room to practice sparring.

   Practicing lightsaber sparring against droids was dull, but I needed to improve my attunement to my lightsaber. No matter how much I detested the thing, there was going to come a point where I had to use it. At least here I could practice with it away from prying eyes that might see things they shouldn’t. Father had tried setting Keldav up as a sparring partner once, but Keldav simply could not use the training lightsabers effectively enough. Lending him one of Father’s did not help matters much either.

   No matter, either Keldav would be getting his own shortly, or someone would be replacing him. Then I might have a sparring partner other than my parents and tutors who inevitably went easy on me.

   I finished up personal practice after about an hour and cleaned up for the night. I reclined in bed reading a book for an hour before calling it a night.

   Next morning came quickly enough. One of the servants announced I had a visitor waiting for me. I told them to have whoever wait while I had my bath and got dressed. I was snacking on some breakfast cakes when one of the servants felt the need to remind me again of my visitor. Annoyed at the disruption to my routine, I assented to them being allowed to come before me while I ate.

   In came a young girl, probably 3 years younger than me. She was clearly a servant or a slave or some sort. What stood out about her the most was her appearance though. She was wearing a dress very similar to the one I wore just the day before and her hair was done in a similar style to my own. It was about that time that I noticed the numerous cuts and bruises on her face and limbs. There was a look of fear in her eyes and it wasn’t fear of me.

(Valerie) What is the meaning of this? Who are you?

(Visitor) My Lady, my name is Gab Kilnes. I am a slave girl to Master Jurin. I came here because I felt it best you know what my Master has been doing and plans for you.

   Well that explained the bruising, but I wasn’t liking the implications the rest entailed.

(Valerie) Well, Gab, you’d best be quick explaining.

(Gab) Yes, my Lady, although I feel it best if I let you watch this recording rather than me trying to explain.

   I watched the recording she had brought with her several times. My fury rose with each viewing. I could also tell that Gab was growing increasingly frightened over my visible rage. Jurin had been acting out all sorts of twisted fantasies about me with those servant girls of his. Judging by the contents of the recording, it was no surprise they didn’t last long either.

   Especially galling was the part where he bragged about requesting my hand in exchange for being Father’s apprentice. Jurin evidently felt he was going to teach the “uppity bitch” her place.

   Not that Father would have seriously entertained or even offered such a notion. Jurin was obviously so underqualified to be a proper apprentice that even Keldav seemed far superior if only for temperament. Right, Jurin was going to die today and damn the consequences. He needed to learn his place before he died. But first…

(Valerie) Gab, you now are a servant of the Soung household. Thelos in the kitchen will make arrangements and see to any healing you might need. Your first order though will be to never dress up like me again. Do you understand?

(Gab) Yes, my Lady. But you must understand, Master Jurin owns me, without his consent I cannot…

(Valerie) Dead men cannot own property.

   I got up and left, leaving a partially finished meal on the table. Behind me I could hear Gab begin to cry softly.

   The chauffeur was not expecting me to be leaving so soon and so scrambled hurridly to get the hovercar ready. He seemed to think my glowering was aimed at him, and while I was annoyed at the wait, I was saving my anger for someone special today.

   The ride itself never seemed to move so slow. I resisted barking at the chauffeur but did darken the windows to block out the morning sun. It was then that I realized I had brought my lightsaber with me. Sensing the power of the Dark Side grow within me, I began the control exercises I had learned over the last year. Slowly I began to detach the decision making portion of my mind from the emotions that drove my power. Fracturing my mind like this for too long or too often would be dangerous, but it was necessary to keep the emotions from controlling me and becoming habitual.

   In the end it came down to a simple decision. Jurin had to die.

   Arrival at the Academy came soon after I was finished. Part of me idly wondered if the driver deliberately timed it or if it was just another coincedence. No matter. Now it was time to hunt Jurin down.

   He wasn’t in the commons room, although many of the occupants scattered as they felt me approach. Those that didn’t feel me fled when they saw me. I saw Keldav hiding behind one of the columns trying to remain unseen. For all his limitations, he could be smart when he needed to be. Not finding Jurin here and not being able to sense his presence with all the commotion going on, I grabbed a datapad and requested his location.

   He was in classroom 324 on the third floor. I really didn’t feel like taking the elevator or the stairs right now and wanted to just leap up from here in the commons to the third floor.

   But that use of power would be a dead giveaway I was out to kill. Besides, it was also giving in to my emotions and recklessness. No need for that just yet. I quietly walked up the stairs after gently placing the datapad on the table. Room 324 was right off the main hallway to the South. I tried the door but found it to be locked. I could hear the instructor lecturing but couldn’t make out what. It didn’t matter.

   My kick sent the door sailing across over the instructor to imbed itself in the wall on the far side. The instructor clearly was not a Sith as he went to cower behind his desk.

(Valerie) Excuse me. Is Jurin in here? I wish to speak with him right now.

   Jurin made no move to announce himself, although everyone else in the room more than made up for that as they all pointed at him. I began striding towards him and everyone else vacated the premises. I could see him begin to finger his lightsaber. I flicked on the shield generators on my arms and legs.

(Jurin) Valerie? What the hell do you think you’re doing?

(Valerie) Me? Oh, nothing much, just got something I need to take care before lunch, after which the rest of my day is pretty open.

(Jurin) Quit kidding around! This isn’t funny.

(Valerie) No, it isn’t. But I am sure people will be laughing about this come tomorrow.

   Once again I saw the flicker of potential possibilities spring forth from him. He was clearly more powerful than Ulstin as I had a harder time picking out the true path. Best I was going to be able to do was prune the most unlikely branches and focus on countering the most probable ones.

   He ignited his lightsaber and rushed towards me with Force enhanced speed. Knocking his blade aside with my left hand, I made to launch a powerful telekinetic blast with my right. He countered with a blast of his own and we were both thrown backwards from the recoil. I got to my feet first, but he then began to fling desks towards me in an attempt to keep me away.

   There were too many things for him to use as projectiles for me to effectively dodge them all, so I pulled the door out of the wall with the Force and used it as a shield as I pushed forward towards him. Thankfully he thought I was following the door more closely than I was as he stabbed his blade through the door trying to get me. That gave me a clear line to kick the door and him out into the hallway away from things he could throw at me.

   Evidently Jurin had more skill than I anticipated as he managed to blunt most of the damage to his body using the Force. No matter, I followed him out into the hallway and began to duel him in earnest. Jurin would attempt to attack or defend with his lightsaber while using his other hand to direct Force attacks. I fought back using the shield generators on my arms and legs to counter his attacks and make attacks of my own.

   Steadily I pushed him back out towards the commons as he slowly gave ground. Eyes began to gather on us as people found protected vantage points to watch from. Right when I had him backed against the railing above the commons itself, he leapt backwards and down into the main floor.

   Jumping down after him was inviting him to used a ranged attack while my trajectory was fixed. Time to be unpredictable. I telekinetically grabbed the remnants of the door still laying in the hallway behind me and flung them at him on the floor below. That occupied his attention and also neatly blocked his line of sight to me. Now he should be expecting me to follow the table down using it as a shield to block his attack. In fact that would be the most probable attack and the one he should be seeing. Time to do something else instead.

   Slinking back against the wall, I crouched down so that his line of sight would be unable to find me. He could still use Force senses to track me, but those were going to take precious seconds to catch up now. The stairwell I came up was currently to my right. A quick running leap flung me down the stairwell parallel to the stairs. It was a simple matter to hit the landing with one hand and pivot so that it brought my feet against the wall again. Kicking off that wall with another enhanced leap was all it took to get me to the ground floor moving at high speed.

   By now, Jurin had come to realize I wasn’t behind the door I flung at him and was busily scanning the third floor trying to find me. More precious seconds to my advantage. Now I was running at high speed across the floor trying to close the distance before he realized I was there. Someone cried out before I was able to fully close though and thus Jurin was able to react in time to bring his lightsaber down on top of me with a two handed swing.

   Throwing my arms above me to block the attack, I dove into him head first with an impromptu tackle I hadn’t been planning. We rolled across the floor together as his lightsaber when skidding across the floor and one of my arms felt like it was on fire. He rolled off of me and leapt backwards, trying to open the distance between us as he telekinetically grabbed his lightsaber again. In a most fortuitous set of circumstances, he had leapt back onto the half the remains of the door I had thrown at him.

   I jumped high into the air, purposefully making myself prone to attack as I sailed towards him. As he reared back to throw his lightsaber at me in an attack meant to cut me in half, I pulled the door out from under him. Jurin clearly wasn’t expecting the move as he fell backward onto his back as I came down on top of him. His head hit the floor a split second before my foot came down on his head.

   The contents of his skull were all over the room. Jurin was clearly dead now and I got a chance to take stock of the situation. It looked like the shield generator on my left arm had given out under the stress loaded on it. The remains of the bracers had taken the brunt of the lightsaber hit, but the smoked electronics had burned the skin of my arm. Oh well, some bacta will take care of that in short order.

   A quick glance around the room showed several of the other students exchanging the winnings of bets on the fight. Judging by the amount of money exchanging hands, it looked like I was the favored fighter in the match. That was satisfying to know. I saw Keldav in the back behind his column, although now he was grinning one of the most stupid grins I had ever seen. There was something downright smug about it all.

   I heard the servants groaning about yet another cleanup job, but my attention wasn’t on them. It was focused on my Father who came out and clapped Keldav on the back and told him congratulations.

   Congratulations?

   Why in the galaxy would Father be congratulating Keldav now of all times? Did he take advantage of the confusion caused by my fight to kill his opponent? That was stupid, if he could have engineered that, then it would simply have been much easier to…..

   Oh no.

   THE BASTARD!

   He got me to do his dirty work for him! Worse yet, even after I offered to do it for him and he refused. How could I have been so blind? Jurin thought he had a chance because Father told he did. And Father told him because he knew Keldav couldn’t kill him on his own. I overlooked it because I knew Jurin couldn’t possibly be an apprentice.

   Keldav had evidently gotten a recording of Jurin either acting out those fantasies with the girl or doctored them so the fantasies involved me. The girl was either already dressed like me from the fantasy or told to dress like me to help sell the scheme. He then sends the girl to me with a copy of the video. And I fell for it, being so willing to believe Jurin was sick monster. Whether Jurin truly was acting out the fantasy or not doesn’t matter anymore. What matters is the fact he knew that it would infuriate me to the point I’d kill.

   This was all a test of Keldav’s ability to manipulate someone to do his work for him. Not a test of his ability to kill a strong opponent. Now Keldav would get his lightsaber and become a full apprentice.

   Suddenly the pain in my arm felt like nothing. All my attention was focused on this young man in front of me I mistook for a weakling. Maybe Father hadn’t made such a bad decision after all. This Keldav was worth keeping an eye on.

   No, that wasn’t the proper way to think of him anymore.

  Kira, I’ve got my eye on you.

d20 Dreamspawn – Lerona and Queen Yintor

   Occasionally people want to know why they should take a challenge rating one creature as a companion when they can take a challenge rating two creature.

   And to some extent, that’s a sensible question. Admittedly, lower challenge-rating creatures sometimes have some useful special ability, are often less conspicuous, and may be a better fit with the role you’re playing – but if a game gets combat-heavy, having passed up a couple of extra hit dice and more damage can start looking like a really stupid decision.

   However, if your game master is feeling generous enough to let you get away with it, there’s an easy way to fix that; apply a +1 ECL – or CR – Template. After all, your companion needs to be challenge rating two or less – but nothing says it has to be straight out of the book.

   In this case, I’ll be applying the Atherian Absolute Command Birthright. That’s normally a +0 ECL Race, but – in Eclipse – you can apply racial builds as Templates at +1 ECL.

   The Absolute Command Birthright:

  • Inherent Spells: 4xL1 (6 CP), 4x L2 (12 CP), 4x L3 (11 CP): Specialized and Corrupted: Only usable to power Theurgy, immediate commands only, requires a fortitude save at +4 against the user’s own spell to avoid fatigue. Net cost: 10 CP. Caster Level = User’s Hit Dice
  • Reflex Action with +3 Bonus Uses: Specialized in Theurgy (12 Uses/Day, 11 CP)
  • Mastery x2 (all Theurgy Verb Skills) (8 CP): Specialist for Double Effect (may “Take 20”)/immediate commands only; no long-term enchantments, no duration spells, no triggered or waiting effects, etc. Corrupted/requires a Will save against fatigue.
  • Resist: +2 on saving throws against Mental Effects, Corrupted: Mind Control Only (2 CP).
    • That last bit is usually redundant, but it might come into play if the Protection from Law effect gets dispelled.

   Lerona Sylinthin is a young elvish girl, the daughter of an elven father and a half-elven mother, and is as yet very young – the rough equivalent of seven or eight years old. Her red-blonde hair and freckles are amongst the last traces of her human grandmother – whom she has, sadly, never met, since she died of old age long before Lerona was born.

Lerona is sunny, cheerful, and surprisingly practical in daily life – perhaps a heritage from her father, a carpenter and wood-carver who’s only resort to elvish mysticism is to use it to help sell wooden charms and trinkets. She reserves her flights of fantasy for the epic tales of gods and dragons her mother has spun for her, and used to get lost watching the sun shining through the collection of colored bottles in the window, seeing the gods and dragons of her mother’s tales in the motes of dust dancing in the colored beams that sparkled gemlike through the glass.

   She could see them so clearly that she wasn’t too surprised when one of the tiny dragons she envisioned landed on her shoulder and talked to her. She’s not so sure that the creature really is a goddess – at least not like the ones the priests talk about – but Queen Yintor is certainly at least a mystical guardian and friend. Who knows? She might really be a minor goddess.

   Her parents are more than a little frightened. Minor oddities, such as not being burned picking up a hot pot, could be overlooked – but the things that happened when a group of bandits attacked the trade-fair outside the walls of the town were not so easily dismissed. Hurling away three burly men with a word, shrugging off a shower of arrows, and healing her mother’s wound while having her imaginary pet strafe the bandits with lightning bolts until they fled was just a bit conspicuous…

   Fortunately, in the confusion, no one outside the family managed to trace the lightning-storm back to Lerona, and the only witnesses to her other tricks were bandits – now dead or fled. Still, sooner or later such abilities will certainly draw the notice of greater powers.

   They’d be even more worried if they realized that a small cult is growing amongst their daughter’s young friends.

   Queen Yintor is a tiny, three-headed, dragoness with multicolored gemlike scales with gold and silver edges, black eyes filled with tiny stars and galaxies, and fringes of twitching, transparent, tendrils around her eyes, mouth, nostrils, and talons (and occasionally slipping out from under her scales). She’s about the size of a small cat (with an overlong tail) in her true form, and usually rides on Lerona’s shoulder or hides in her hair. When she’s off in another dimension, her telltale mark is a modest hair ornament – although it’s quality and apparent value varies depending on how much Queen Yintor feels like showing off at the moment (a minor effect of her chameleon powers).

   Queen Yintor assumes that – since gods are powerful extradimensional beings, and SHE is a powerful extradimensional being, then she must be a goddess, and her bondmate must be her high priestess, and that it is only proper that she be worshiped – although being worshiped as part of a pantheon is acceptable, at least “until she learns the trick of bestowing clerical magic”. Her bondmate, of course, should get all the best of EVERYTHING. Everyone should love and worship Queen Yintor, and love and honor, and bestow wealth and power and influence upon, her bondmate. For those who fail to do so, there is always the Wrath of the Goddess Yintor!

   Perhaps fortunately, Queen Yintor is lazy, and is usually willing to take Lenora’s word for it as to whether or not someone is being rude enough to punish with a lightning bolt.

   Lerona Sylinthin

   Level -1 Elven Child, equivalent age eight.

  • Gains (1+ Con Mod) HP and (2x Int Mod) Skill Points for her level.
  • Racial bonuses of +2 Dex, -2 Con, Immunity/Sleep Effects, +2 on Saves versus Enchantment Spells and Effects, Low-Light Vision, Proficiency with longsword, rapier, longbow, and shortbow, +2 on Listen, Search, and Spot, speaking Elven as an extra language, and the ability to detect secret doors.
  • Attribute Age adjustments for Small Child: Str -4, Wis -2, Con +2, Dex +2, and Chr -2.
  • Rolled Attributes: (4d6, keep 3): Str 13, Int 12, Wis 14, Con 14, Dex 16, Chr 15.
  • Net Attributes: Str 09 (-1), Int 12 (+1), Wis 12 (+1), Con 14 (16*) (+3), Dex 20 (22*) (+6), and Chr 13 (+1).

   Skills (2 SP + 1 CP): Knowledge/Religion +2, Diplomacy +2, Listen +3, Search +3, and Spot +3. Speaks Elven and Common (and is still learning her bonus language). +3 Specialty in Queen Yintor. Note that her Charisma and social skills are often drastically augmented by Queen Yintor’s powers. Lerona is entitled to eight memorized minor mystical rituals, but has yet to actually pay attention to that – so they haven’t been selected as of yet.

   Disadvantages: Visions (sees, and acts on, occasional “visions” – supposedly from the gods), Insane (sees nothing wrong with having Queen Yintor constantly lurking about or with trying to recruit worshipers for her), Obligations (chores, weekly lessons at the local temple, listen to parents), and Hunted (someone has been listening to the surviving bandit’s tales. That’s one more disadvantage than she can actually get points for, but this will happen). That gives her 10 CP to spend. One has already gone to getting that Speciality noted above, as for the rest…

   Companion with two levels of Template, Specialized; Queen Yintor wants to be worshiped, and to have offerings made to her, and to be endlessly fussed over. She does not react well to people who deny her divinity, who don’t indulge her, or who are mean to her high priestess (9 CP).

   Combat Information:

  • Initiative: +6 (Dex)
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +6 (Dex) +4 (Armor*) = 20.
  • Move: 30 + 30* = 60.
  • Hit Points: 1 (Base) +12 (2d6 Magic) +9 (3x Con Mod) = 22
  • Damage Reduction 10/Psionics
  • Energy Resistance 20, 10 versus psionically-generated energies.
  • Saves: Fort +8, Ref +8, Will +6 (using Queen Yintor’s saves).
  • Attacks
    • Punch or Kick: +0 (-1 Str +1 Magic), 1d4 stun (-1 Str, +1 Magic), Crit 20/x2
    • Small Short Bow: +6 (+6 Dex), 1d4, Crit 20/x3, 60′ range increment.

   Special Notes: Need not Eat, Drink, Sleep, or Breathe, effectively immune to poison*, Fast Healing I (up to 20 points/hit die/day)*, Protection from Law*, and True Strike 3/Day*. All use-activated. Effects marked with an “*” are subject to dispelling and antimagic versus caster level one – but will come right back again next round.

   Queen Yintor (Pseudodragon Base):

Hit Dice: 2d12 +2d6 (12) +16 = 50 HP
Initiative: +4 (Dex)
Speed: 45, fly 90 (good)
Armor Class: 25 (10 Base +2 Size, +4 Dex, +5 Natural +4 Armor)
Base Attack/Grapple: +2/–8
Attack: Sting +7 melee (1d3–1 plus poison, magic)
Full Attack: Sting +7 melee (1d3–2 plus poison) and bite +0 melee (2)
Space/Reach: 2-1/2 ft./0 ft. (5 ft. with tail)
Special Attacks: Poison (Ex): Fortitude DC 16 (Con based, with +2 racial bonus), initial damage sleep for 1 minute, secondary damage sleep for 1d3 hours.
Special Qualities: Blindsense 60 ft., darkvision 60 ft., immunity to sleep and paralysis, low-light vision, spell resistance 24, telepathy 60 ft. Extraordinary Returning, Unbound, Amorphous, Immune to Sneak Attacks and Critical Hits, Disturbing, Helpful, Need not Eat, Breathe, Drink, or Sleep, DR 10/Psionic, Energy Resistance 20, 10 versus psionicly-generated energies, Immunity to Poison, Fast Healing I, Protection from Law.
Saves: Fort +8, Ref +8, Will +6
Abilities: Str 8, Dex 17 (19), Con 17 (19), Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 10
Skills: Diplomacy +2, Hide +22* (Additional +4 in forests, overgrown areas, or when hiding under hair), Listen +8, Search +6, Sense Motive +8, Spot +8, Survival +2 (+4 following tracks), Knowledge/The Planes +1, Speaks Common, Sylvan, and Elvish.
Feats: Weapon Finesse

 

   Unique Powers

  • As a companion creature, Queen Yintor bestows a six-point power; in her case, that’s Blessing, Specialized (for double effect) and Corrupted (for reduced cost)/Only works between her bondmate and Herself, can only be used to bestow the abilities of Blessing, Spell Resistance, Darksight, and the Absolute Command template. In practice, this rules exploit allows Lerona to bestows the Blessing power right back on Queen Yintor. Queen Yintor then bestows her Spell Resistance, Darksight, and Absolute Command powers on Lerona – and, thanks to the double effect, does so without losing them herself for a total cost of 4 CP.
    • Yes, that is cheesy. Perhaps fortunately, however, Queen Yintor is quite lazy. She hates to risk being fatigued if she can avoid it. Hence this doesn’t usually amount to doubling up on her spellcasting; it simply means that her bondmate gets to use it.
    • It’s also a good way to build those “destined companion” characters, where the two together are supposed to be far more effective than the two as individuals. I’d still be careful about letting players take this option; Blessing is almost always better as a game master tool anyway.
  • Secondarily, Queen Yintor bestows the intuitive knowledge of (2 x [Int Mod +3]) mystical rituals of her bondmate’s choice (she doesn’t pay any attention to such things; she simply funnels some lore out of the aether into her companions head) – although attempting to use these without the Occult Ritual ability is pretty problematic for all but the most trivial rituals (2 CP).
  • Inherent Spells (3/Day Each):
    • Eyes Outside Of Time (L1): Moment of Insight/+20 Insight Bonus to any one skill check. Note that, as a personal spell, this also affects her bondmate.
    • The Sparkling Scales (L1): Hypnotism.
      • These two abilities use the option for Inherent Spell as two level one spells twice per day each – three times per day each with splitting the usual two bonus uses between them.
    • The Talon’s Caress (L4): Cure Critical Wounds.
    • Wrath of the Goddess Yintor (L5): Call Lightning Storm. A momentary apparition of one of Queen Yintor’s draconic heads appears momentarily to “breathe the lightning” each time she releases a bolt, adding a certain element of scariness – and a brief aerial glimpse of the field – to each blast, however, attacks against that apparition will affect Queen Yintor if anyone has a held action to use to launch one.
    • A Vision of Unearthly Delight (L6): Grants the creature touched a +10 Competence Bonus to socially-based skills (Charisma-based skills other than Disguise and Use Magic Device, plus Sense Motive and Speak Language – allowing the user to select ten languages of choice) and a +6 Enhancement Bonus to Charisma for one hour per caster level.

   OK, for a personal deity, Queen Yintor isn’t at all bad.

   Personally, I wouldn’t normally let anyone get away with designing or taking companion-creatures like these in a normal campaign – but if you really want to play a Digimon or Pokemon campaign, or turn loose a bunch of kids and their pocket monsters, there’s no reason not to do so. The kids will be able to take quite a bit of incidental damage, while their creatures do most of the heavy work.

Kira Keldav Background – Dark Princess

   And for another bit from Kira’s player…

   Trayus Academy, Malachor V

   So I apparently have someone looking to kill me. That much I learned from my Master. Judging from the lesson he gave, I would also say that, whoever it is, he or she is probably one of the more powerful students running around. Not a lot to go on considering the sheer number of candidates here at the Academy.

   Attempting to sense who was harboring malevolent thoughts towards me was going to be a useless headache. The whole place reeked of sheer malevolence. With my underdeveloped skills and general lack of talent, trying to pick out the signal from the noise is going to be impossible. Unfortunately, the best bet was going to be asking around and see if someone was willing to part with some helpful information.

   Leaving my quarters, I saw Valerie Soung leaning against the opposite wall obviously waiting for me. She certainly had been watching me during my training with her father for the last several weeks now. She pretty much has been since the day I found out her lightsaber was pink during our first sparring session. Laughing at that was probably not the smartest of moves I will admit. The sheer beating I received was not pleasant either. Is she here now to kill me? I seriously doubt my Master is the type to tell me to kill his own daughter, even if they are both Sith.

(Kira) What, so are you the one out to get me? Is this really part of your training and not mine?

(Valerie) Shut up, your skill is not at a level to be worth being a training exercise for me.

(Kira) Then why are you here? I seriously doubt you want to help me with this task.

(Valerie) Consider me intrigued after what my father said to you. I’m going to watch from a distance and see what you do.

(Kira) Fine then, have it your way.

(Valerie) I don’t need your permission to do what I want.

(Kira) Yes, I believe you proved that.

   A rather blatant way to trail me, but it wasn’t like I could do anything to her given the difference in power between us. She proved that some time ago and my right arm is still sore from that experience. At least she was going to stay far enough back that she shouldn’t draw attention.

   The commons area seemed like the reasonable place to start. Quite a portion of the Academy was already here eating whatever meal of the day it was now. Almost all the “students” here formed little groups around the major personalities. The hanger-ons were usually there for one of two reasons: either they didn’t have enough power to take care of themselves and hoped to prove themselves useful to someone who had, or they were waiting for the main guy to make a mistake and kill him for his place. Occasionally one group would attack another group for some silly reason.

   Then there were the students that had been picked up by one of the masters for personal training. Usually the brightest or most talented students that got that dubious honor. For reasons I didn’t understand, Master Soung had chosen me. It was clear I didn’t have the raw talent or decades of training most everyone else here had. Those few with similar levels of ability as I went through the most rudimentary courses in large groups. Most of them didn’t make it very far.

   There were quite a few here that were upset over my being chosen to apprentice. Some of them would probably even try something about it if they felt that Master Soung wouldn’t be upset with them. Apparently what happened to the last usurper was affording me some protection.

   I didn’t ask for this.

   Over in the back corner I could see the servants huddled together. It was easy to pick them out, besides the difference in clothing, they were all in more tightly packed seating arrangements. Since sitting by myself was asking for trouble, I usually sat with them. One of them asked once why I sat with them instead of the other Sith. I did get a chuckle out of him when I said he was better company than the Sith were.

(Bleus) Back again are you?

(Kira) Well, I have to eat sometime don’t I? I really don’t think there is a Force ability to keep me from having to eat.

(Cav) You’d think one of them would figure it out, given the amount of poisonings going on.

(Kira) Oh? Anyone I know this time?

(Cav) Might, let’s see I think this week we’ve had Yeltus and Grent killed by poisoning. Merco did himself in taking on Hetz. And Draver hasn’t been seen in some time.

(Kira) Hmm, can’t say any of those really shock me. Thankfully I been sailing under the radar of the competition thus far.

(Bleus) Not a bad approach, don’t hear nearly as many grumblings about you as we hear about the others. None of them would do anything to displease Master Soung either.

(Kira) So I am told.

(Arc) Best to watch yourself though. Master Soung has apparently been asking around about the other talented students lately. He may be looking for a replacement in the near future.

(Kira) Damned if I stand out and damned if I don’t. Anyone in particular he seems to have his eye on?

(Cav) Well he has been asking about Jurin for some time.

(Kira) That degenerate? He makes your average Sith look like a Jedi.

(Cav) Aye, but he does have some talent, plus he has all those years of Jedi training on you.

   Jurin was another one of the Sith-wannabe Jedi running around. A true sociopath, he delighted in violence and asserting his dominance over others. You could usually tell which servants were his from the scars and bruises. The female ones didn’t usually last long either.

   Sadly Cav was right, Jurin had years of experience and some talent. If Master Soung was dropping hints at being interested in apprenticing him, then Jurin would have no problem killing me for my position. Well now I had someone with a potential motive for wanting to kill me while still avoiding pissing off my Master. I just needed to confirm it. I saw my chance walk up to another table.

(Kira) Hey isn’t that girl over there one of Jurin’s new servants?

(Bleus) Aye, she is. Poor lass won’t last a month I wager.

(Kira) Want to make a wager of it?

(Cav) What you going to off Jurin? We should be taking bets on you surviving, not her in that case.

(Arc) Five meal tickets says Kira and the girl are dead inside of a week.

(Cav) I say one month at most.

(Kira) Here are five meal tickets saying the girl and I are still alive in two months.

(Bleus) Alright, Kira still alive after one month, but the girl dead before the month is out.

   Meal tickets were about the only currency to be had at the Academy. There were other more specialized “currencies” running around, but nothing that had the sanctioned value the yellow slips of paper had. That was one thing I had to give to Master Soung, I never wanted for meal tickets. I made certain not to abuse the priviledge, although today seemed like a prime time to.

   I got up and put away my tray and grabbed something that looked like a dessert. A quick glance around the room confirmed Jurin and his cronies weren’t currently around – although I could see Valerie watching me from across the commons. I resisted the urge to wave and draw attention to her. Satisfied, I grabbed a second dessert and went to see the new girl.

(Kira) Mind if I sit here Ms….

(Girl) Kilnes, Gab Kilnes, and I am not sure Master Jurin would like this.

   I went ahead and had a seat, she didn’t exactly say no. I pushed a dessert towards her. Up close she seemed to remind me of someone, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. The name certainly didn’t ring a bell.

(Kira) Well Gab, I can say that Jurin does not appear to be here right now. Nor any of his cronies that I know of. From the Republic are you?

(Gab) Yes, from Maples out on the midrim. Sith invaded, killed my parents and took me as a slave.

(Kira) Sad, it’s a story happening rather frequently around here right now. I’m from Alderaan myself. Was captured 3 months ago during the war.

(Gab) You were a Jedi?

(Kira) No, nothing like that. I just happened to have my Force powers awaken as the ship I was on started to break up. It caught the eye of the Sith commander, and I got sent here.

(Gab) You’re lucky.

(Kira) Normally I would say not, that you don’t have to deal with the harsh training, constant backstabbing, and general unpleasantness that comes with being a Sith, but I think you may well have a harder time ahead of you than I do.

(Gab) So you’re here to take pity on me then?

(Kira) Maybe, although I would be lying if I didn’t say I had an ulterior motive in all this. I just want information that I hope you can provide is all. Hey, I will even throw this in as an added bonus.

   I threw a bottle of tablets on the table that I gotten from Bleus some time ago. Apparently the servants in the kitchen had a chemist among them that was willing to make poisons on the side. The most abusive masters tended to end up dead after eating the wrong meal, although some servant or another ended up taking the blame. Most of the Sith wisely learned to not abuse the servants as much, or learned to have their meals cooked by someone else.

(Gab) I can’t poison his food. He has a trusted family member cook and taste it all before he even eats it.

   Drat, there went that option. Oh well, time for the backup.

(Kira) Well, he isn’t the only one you might want to poison. From what I understand of what he does to young girls you might want to partake yourself before long.

   I could see realization of what lay before her dawn on her face. For the briefest of moments it looked like she was about to cry. Amazingly she held her composure.

(Gab) Thank you but I don’t think I can do that.

(Kira) No matter, although I will point out that a half of a pill should put you into a sleepy state which you won’t remember anything for about twelve hours. Again, your choice.

(Gab) You said you wanted information?

(Kira) Yes, it has recently come to my attention that your Master may be fishing for my position. I would like to verify this before trying to do something about it.

(Gab) So you’re like the rest of them then? Out to kill those in your way and sweet talk or bribe those that might help you do it?

(Kira) Perhaps, I just view it as protecting my own hide long enough to figure a way out of here. Have to cling onto something.

   My answer seemed to quiet her for a bit. Maybe mentioning hope of escape was a bad idea. She knew how hopeless her situation was and yet I was rubbing it in her face in the hopes of saving my own hide. Damn it all.

(Gab) He certainly thinks he has approval from your Master to kill you if he can. I think he is waiting for something else before he does it though.

(Kira) Oh? Any idea what that might be?

   At which point the girl became sheepish and reluctant to answer anymore questions. Well, I at least confirmed Jurin was the one most likely to make an attempt. Odd though that he hadn’t already tried if he felt he already had approval from Master Soung.

   I bid the girl farewell and left the commons room. I needed more information though before all the pieces fit. I got the odd feeling Master Soung wouldn’t appreciate it if I killed Jurin on a probably. I needed proof of intent to satisfy myself as well. Facing Jurin directly was a good way for me to end up dead. Oh well, this was two problems that could be worked on in parallel: how to kill Jurin, and how to get the information I needed.

   The latter was the easier one. I met with Bleus later in the droid maintenance room.

(Kira) Hey Bleus I need to ask a favor.

(Bleus) No, I am not sending a droid with a bomb to solve your problem for you.

(Kira) What about a droid with a camera?

(Bleus) A camera? What, are you planning to explore the countryside from your quarters or are you hoping to get interesting vids of Valerie before you die?

(Kira) Not particularly, but I was wanting to see if I could get a good view of whatever it is Jurin gets up during his personal time.

(Bleus) Well that’s sick, I thought you were above that sort of thing being from Alderaan and all.

(Kira) It’s not like that. The guy has a clear motive and the means to kill me. Apparently in his eye Master Soung has given approval to off me. I want to know why he hasn’t already, and I have a sneaking suspicion it relates to these sick activities of his.

(Bleus) What you think he wants to have you in those things?

(Kira) I doubt it, he certainly doesn’t seem to lean that way according to all evidence.

(Bleus) Well, I can certainly see no reason to say no, especially if I say you made me do it. Sicko would probably want a copy of the video himself.

(Kira) I don’t doubt it.

   Bleus quickly rigged on of the maintenance droids to pause at a certain spot in the ventilation ducts near Jurin’s quarters and record what it saw into memory. He promised to get me a copy of whatever it found in the morning. Wasn’t much more to do on that end other than to leave and wait.

   Now that led to how in the galaxy did I kill a Force user with my meager skills? It wasn’t like I even had a lightsaber of my own to fight back with. Poisoning him wasn’t an option, he was too paranoid for that. Giving Gab a dagger or a knife wasn’t going to work either. I certainly didn’t have the skills to rig an explosive and take him out at range. This was going to be humiliating: I could find out who was going to kill me, how he was going to do it and still not be able to do a thing about it. I just didn’t have the skill or power.

   Hmm, if I didn’t have the skill or power, what if I could get someone who did to kill Jurin for me? Alright, that would work, but how do I get someone to want to kill Jurin? And want to do it badly enough to risk annoying Master Soung? Sith were gullible and prideful, but not that stupid. I found myself brooding as I headed back to the commons.

   I got back just in time to witness Valerie kill another Sith right in the middle of the room. Apparently the idiot had tried to sneak a feel, or so she was claiming. Her word against his, and he was a greasy smear on the floor. What really scared me about her is it wasn’t like she flew into a rage during this sort of thing. She just sort of loses all emotions as she decides it is your time to die now. Despite the fact you would expect her to be furious, she approaches the kill with a calm not unlike an assassin droid. I couldn’t even recognize who the victim was this time.

   She certainly could kill Jurin, but manipulating her to do anything I want was going to be nigh impossible. Wishful thinking anyway. Was there anyone else I could manipulate into doing it? The servants I could probably talk into trying something, but were the least likely to succeed. The instructors were as likely to kill me as to inform Jurin of my request for help. The other students would see it as a sign of weakness if I asked for help and would try to kill me instead.

   No, best bet was to make someone think it was their idea to kill Jurin and for reasons completely unrelated to me.

   Valerie was standing over her fresh kill and was giving me a wicked grin. I don’t know if she was trying to display that she could take care of her own problems to me, or was implying I was next or what. I really didn’t feel like asking. I left the commotion that was brewing as an instructor found his star pupil a stain on the floor and headed back to the room Master Soung trained me in.

   Master Soung was gone, probably off doing something or other that didn’t concern me in the slightest. That left me in the training room alone then. I went into my regular exercises of Force acrobatics, telekinetics, and meditations. It was about the time I was trying the one hand stand that a voice called out and I lost my concentration.

(Valerie) Practicing in the vain hope you would improve enough to kill your target in time?

(Kira) Well I got a pretty good idea who it might be. I should be certain come morning. Still working on the method though.

(Valerie) Aww, don’t have the power to do it yourself then? Trying to think of some clever way to off him?

(Kira) Perhaps, I am open to any brilliant suggestions you might have though. I will compare it against what I have and decide how to proceed.

(Valerie) Well if you tell me who it is you need killed, I might do it for you then.

   Nothing Valerie did was for free. Some price was expected for such a large favor and I had little to offer. Well, might as well get her to state what she wants in exchange for it.

(Kira) And why would you waste your time on such a small fry?

(Valerie) Who? You or him?

(Kira) Does it really matter? You clearly want something in exchange for it and I would like to know what.

(Valerie) Heh, not one to beat about the bush are you? At least you didn’t immediately start begging me.

(Kira) I reserve the option for that towards the end of the week.

   That at least made her laugh. That usually was a good sign.

(Valerie) Cute. Alright, I think my father made a mistake in choosing you as his apprentice. He has begun to regret it and is now looking into getting another.

(Kira) Tell me something half the school doesn’t already believe.

(Valerie) Watch it Keldav, I may not be as strong as my father yet, but I am plenty strong enough to kill you.

(Kira) You already proved that and I have acknowledged it repeatedly since then. Doesn’t mean I am going to start kissing your feet if that is what you want of me.

(Valerie) Well you have spirit , I give you that. I want you to quietly step down as apprentice and allow someone else to take the position. I am even willing to push to have you enrolled in one of the advanced classes.

   Ah, she was wanting to avoid the scandel of having it look like her father chose poorly. If I stepped down, that placed the failure on my head and not his. The ruse to put me into an advanced class was likely to last until everyone forgot about me and I could be made to quietly disappear. It would delay my death sentence for a few months that way. Sadly my best bet of surviving the next six months meant sticking with Master Soung and passing this test. Actually having a lightsaber of my own would do immense things for my social status and chances of survival.

(Kira) Hmm, thanks but no thanks. While I appreciate the offer, I do believe I have more I could learn here with your father than with one of the common instructors.

   Counterbalance one rejection with a backhanded praise of her father, check.

(Valerie) So you still think you can win this one then? Well, you aren’t the only one to think so. I have my doubts however. I would recommend you spend more time planning or training than wasting your time sympathizing with servant girls.

   With that she turned and left. So she thought that was purely about sympathy? Valerie could stand to spend a year in high school to learn proper politics. Although I doubt she could last a day without killing someone. It was an amusing thought that brought a smile to my face.

   Valerie said someone else thought I could win this. Who in the Academy would think that? I was fairly certain I was going to die soon and I had insider knowledge on the whole affair. Who would be so naive to believe I could pull such a thing off? It had to be someone fairly important for Valerie to even bother mentioning it.

   Wait, Valerie didn’t know it was Jurin wanting to kill me. Maybe it really was possible to get her to kill Jurin. All it was going to take was for a couple of assumptions to prove true come morning and I might be able to get Valerie to do all my work for me without even realizing it. It would be worth the beating just to see the realization dawn on her face at what happened.

   I went back to my training regimen for rest of the evening before calling it a night and heading back to my quarters.

Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 10

   Having avoided being killed on the ritual hunting trip, having successfully brought back some Rastin carcasses, and having survived the after-the-hunt party, the local kids and the characters who’d participated in the hunt were now considered adult members of the local tribe – not that such a thing really did the characters all that much good.

   Well, the ritual of adulthood was now completed. We were now part of the tribe. This wasn’t anywhere near what I wanted in life, but considering the circumstances, I suppose it could be much worse. At least we should be able to pass the time waiting for Handell or the Republic Military to respond to our message in tolerable comfort.

   Alys went looking into the local legends and history. Jarik messed around with plants and fungi looking for new medical drugs – apparently with some success. Of course, any planets list of herbal remedies would contain medically-active compounds, but was it really likely that they’d be more useful than the galaxy full of stuff which was already known? Oh well, everyone needed a hobby. Ben was busily designing primitive weapons to destroy war droids; some sort of lever-and-counterweight rock thrower apparently… Considering this bunch, they seemed just as likely to turn any such innovations against the neighbors and start a wave of global conquest as to start building a civilization. After all, they did see every other tribe as hostile rivals. Lazlo spent a lot of time talking to the village shaman, and learning what being a shaman entailed… He was pretty pleased to find that he might be eligible; apparently the shamans were the local force-sensitives, no big surprise there.

   Meanwhile I was trying to burn out all the impurities in my lightsaber crystal. Repairing the crystal was slow going, especially considering how much my mind was wandering. The thought of Valerie getting here first was not a pleasant one. I couldn’t see much chance of fighting her off or even of keeping her at bay given our current state and resources. I didn’t like having my fate outside my control, although that has been an experience far too common for my tastes.

   Then there is this world to consider. There is something down here at the edge of my awareness and I can’t put my finger on it. A lot about this world does not make sense and it is giving me a distinct sense of unease. I want off this world soon and be able to think about this without being in the middle of it.

   Alys was able to get surprisingly detailed information on the events immediately prior to the bombardment of the planet. In fact, rather astoundingly detailed information; the local tribes were the descendants of the people who’d fled the cities – mostly via subsurface fast transport systems – in the time between the collapse of the planetary shields and the collapse of the city shields. There had been centuries of struggle for survival, when the ecosphere was so badly damaged that everyone was always desperate for food… No wonder they were so competitive and viewed all the neighbors as enemies. Worse. apparently the Sith had been trying to create some way to pass along the training necessary to become a Sith automatically. Yet another bit in the greater mess of Sith experiments to grow the ranks without actually having a systematic training program. Trayus actually did try to teach new students, but the failure rate was atrocious. I dare say most of the successes there were more on the lines of managing to beats the odds and surviving.

   Besides things like genetic memories don’t work. If they did, the galaxy would have been overrun by the first sapient species to make it work. The accumulated experience of all of your ancestors is a major survival advantage. So there is no way the Sith could have succeeded at such an insane goal. Oh well, chalk it up to surprisingly good memories or some such. Maybe the lizard people here are not as “creative” as other species and so lost the ability to distort their oral traditions?

   Still… the local “educational system” seemed to consist of casual instruction by the shamans and loose apprenticeships to the adults. Admittedly, a stone age society didn’t have all that much in the way of technical information to pass along, but how did they keep their stories so undistorted? Had they actually managed to engineer inherited Sith instincts or tendencies or some sort of a force monotalent that could transfer memories? The projects here would be only two thousand years old – rathr than the four-thousand-plus of the facility on Archegeph. Even the Sith might stumble across something that worked in two thousand years…

   Ben was still working hard on his plan to shove the entire planet through the whole technological development process. I didn’t have much faith in a plan to take a very Sith like culture and thrust them upon the galaxy. Besides, instead of reinventing the wheel, it would be far more efficient to just import the technology they needed from the galaxy. Colonized worlds don’t start off with stone tools after all. I encouraged Ben to put his plans to uplift the locals on hold – or at least to wait until we could get the access codes to the damned droids and shut them down in a reasonable fashion – but I wasn’t sure if he would do it or not.

   Come to think of it, was the place being left alone? The old droids were easy enough to fool – so were visitors dropping by occasionally? Picking up the occasional new Sith trainee?

   I was eventually – after Alys and Lazlo spent a good deal more time talking to the Shaman – informed that Lazlo wanted to undergo some sort of shamanic initiation ritual. The tribe’s shaman told him that this way he might be able to learn from the the dead gods. It really sounded like the shaman was talking about Force ghosts to me. Strangely I felt no such spirits running around which surprised me. Maybe I should have talked to the shaman – but neither I nor Ben needed to gratuitously risk more Sith ideas getting into our heads!

   I tried explaining the concept of Force ghosts to Lazlo once it became clear he had never heard of the idea. Just how uneducated was this guy? When Lazlo told us he thought the idea of coming back after you die to kill more people sounded cool, I ended the conversation as unproductive. Best not to give him ideas when he wants to undergo a ritual to become a Sith shaman. I did sit in on the ritual to awaken Lazlo’s powers in the Force to compare it with what I saw at the academy. It couldn’t be any more dangerous than letting the super-soldier turn into a crazed Sith destroyer with no one around to stop him…

   Alys wisely went and got Jarik for this as it became clear the ritual involved painting Lazlo with paralytic venom and then dosing him with a potentially very lethal dose of toxins and venoms. Ah, it looked like the shaman believes Lazlo is a latent and is trying to force a breakthrough similar to my own nearly a year ago. It never even occurred to me to try and force a breakthrough like this. A brief check with the shaman told me the success rate (terrible) and explained why there were so few initiated shamans compared to the naturals. Looks like we are going to have to bury the cat here soon.

   Wait, according to the shaman the Dead Gods never came out, many of them would not get along if they were alive, and you had to sort through what they remembered? That didn’t sound like force ghosts; those were pretty bloody active and told you what THEY wanted you to know. It didn’t even sound like a holochron…

   Still, what is it with these nuts and thrusting themselves headfirst into the most dangerous thing they can find? I do it because I have no choice in the matter. The rest of them don’t seem to have that excuse half the time. Lazlo was either very determined or didn’t understand what was happening as he allowed the shaman to methodically poison him.

   I could sense that Lazlo was now struggling against the poisons as his body went completely lax on the ground. Whatever latent power he had was trying to keep the poisons from killing him. Amazingly [using a force point to get a 40 result on his check] his control of the power awakened and increased. His body adapted to prevent the poisons from killing him. Impressive, although this still left him on the ground paralyzed and full of toxins. Jarik got to work trying to clean him system out.

   Jarik was rather pleased at getting to test his venom antidote – and with his other tinkering. The venom was potentially quite useful, one of the plants produced a series of enzymes that bound heavy metals. While they could lead to anemia, that had uses in cases of heavy metal poisoning. Another compound boosted the ability of the blood to carry oxygen – but it would need a lot more work to turn an incidental side effect into anything useful. Unfortunately, while the shaman had a lot of interesting medical lore to share, there really wasn’t ANYTHING in the way of gambling action in the entire village.

   Well I guess as far as shamans went, Lazlo was now a full force sensitive like me, the Sith, and the Jedi. I am not sure I like the idea of a Force sensitive programmed to protect someone at all costs. I can just see his emotions going out of control the moment Handell gets into the slightest bit of danger and bringing out the Dark Side. At least the homicidal nuts I’ve dealt with in the past hadn’t awakened their powers or learned to control them. Someone with Lazlo’s abilities going on a Dark Side fueled binge of violence is going to be very difficult to stop. Not much I can do about it now though.

   At least the local shaman hasn’t blown himself up yet. A bit odd now that I think about it. It’s probably best that Lazlo get his training from the shaman until we get back with Telera again. My own experiences with teaching people even minor tricks hasn’t gone well, what with people exploding rather quickly. That part of why I don’t train the kids in anything beyond techniques.

   Shipwreck was getting agitated about something or other by this point. I really don’t know what or why. Jarik finally paralyzed him with more of the lizard venom to keep him out of trouble and from tearing open his stitches. I am not sure what someone as badly injured as he is wants to be doing running around anyway.

   About that time Handell finally showed up. I was quite relieved that he made it first as opposed to Valerie. We loaded everyone up, ate real food, and took turns in medical. I directed Handell to take us back to Alderaan as quickly as possible and to bring me up to date on events from his perspective.

   Looks like when he made it back to the asteroid with the superweapon, he found us missing, the tunnel collapsed, and another team trying to dig their way in. Apparently a female of some sort was in charge of the diggers, and was most annoyed that we weren’t in the asteroid as expected. I can only assume her to be Valerie, and I would have loved to have seen her face the moment she found out we were no longer there. Handell assumed them to be hostile, if only because he felt that no one else would be willing to try and dig us out.

   I am not sure I appreciate what he was insinuating there. In fact, I’m pretty sure I don’t.

   Handell determined that he couldn’t incapacitate their ship without significant risk to the Asrai in the process unless he was bloody lucky with his first shot (we really must get the main weapons fixed). So instead he waited and watched as they worked, got in, and determined that no one was down there – which apparently annoyed the person in charge. With something going on at the shaft, he – and apparently the Republic – got our message roughly simultaneously. The Republic sent ships to the asteroid to investigate while Handell sent another message and waited for them to arrive.

   Right about the time the Republic ships became detectable, Handell detected an explosion within the shaft sealing it off again. Republic ships arrived, confiscated Valerie’s (presumed) ship, and queried the Asrai about things before scanning the asteroid. Handell took the opportunity to come rescue us – apparently managing to beat out the military pilots with hot hyperdrives with his old clunker do to his incredible piloting skills (and this man was bumming around as a tramp freighter pilot? Is his drinking problem THAT bad?). Having rescued us, Handell headed back to Alderaan where we could get medical treatment.

   The Republic was generous enough to give us free medical treatment in exchange for questioning and a stern lecture. Considering some of the estimates I had heard from Jarik on the way, that was quite the bargain. No that I liked getting lectured. How was I supposed to know they would find a mostly operational superweapon in Alderaan space? I thought they were on a wild bantha chase.

   Having all the heavy metals and elements in my body sucked out chemically was not pleasant. There were quite a few treatments and drugs during and afterwards to help with anemia and bone loss. My own inner control helped me recover faster than the others, but it still was an exhausting experience. Most of the others recovered in due time, although Shipwreck needed cybernetics installed to replace the arm and the leg he’d blown off.

   While we all healed, most of us took the chance to catch up on some work we’ve been neglecting. Most of them got to work on getting the asteroid base set up and ready to use while Handell did transport duty. I reviewed the recordings Handell had of Valerie and the explosion in the shaft.

   The timing was too coincedental, too deliberate to have been an accident. The fact that no one had come out also indicated that she was likely inside or had used the device herself. She probably had a better air supply than we had, plus we had gotten the system operational again relatively recently. She could easily have used it herself given time. If she had a semi-respectable technician, then retargeting it wouldn’t have been too difficult either I imagine.

   So was the explosion merely to seal the asteroid away until she could retrieve it? Possible, although thinking of the best possible outcome from her perspective, taking the superweapon back with her would be a decent consolation prize to losing me again. That is what she would have gone for. How could she have gotten the ship out of the asteroid though?

   The same way it got in there you dumb ass.

   You would only need to take the drive system with you. Making that section airtight enough to handle space would be relatively easy. Plus I imagine the power supply suddenly being directly coupled to hyperspace like that would neatly cause the explosion witnessed and destroy all evidence. She would be subjected to the same silting we experienced – unless she’d come up with a solution for that too – but then we more than proved it was survivable. Not that she would have known that. On the other hand, her precognition skills are good. Not as good as Ben’s but then it doesn’t have to be to answer such a simple binary question.

   So she has probably managed to steal our prize right out from under us by pulling an even more elaborate version of the stunt we did. She would also have the coordinates of where we gated ourselves as well. So then she can track us again. Clever girl.

   Of course, this is all speculation. She could have blown herself up down there when something failed, but I doubt that. I sense she is probably still out there and that we will meet again. Hopefully the current generation of Sith wouldn’t be able to make the weapon work right anyway – although Ben promptly came up with several alternative destructive uses for it even as it was. Had the Sith been breeding his people as weapons designers too?

   Back near Archegeph, the base was finally completed, although the hyperdrive system was still going to need to be found. The one we were going to use was either blown up or stolen. General agreement was made to go back to that ruined Sith world Chyran. The Republic fleet gave us the ward off code for the droids circling the planet. In orbit, Shipwreck began his scan of the rock below us looking for anything unusual. He claimed to find signs of active power systems underneath 14 cities, of which 9 were somewhat habitable. It looked like so much noise to me, but the question came up again as to why the Republic felt the need to bombard this place so thoroughly.

   Something scared the Republic pretty good and they didn’t want the Sith to ever regain the planet. The locals meanwhile have highly accurate legends and stories of how the events immediately prior the bombardment took place. Plus a very good understanding of Sith culture and techniques. All of this on a world where the Sith supposedly experimented in creating people born Sith who required no training or lessons.

   Wait a minute…

   Oh damn, the Sith actually did it. Every Force sensitive born on this world apparently does acquire the necessary knowledge to be a Sith without any training. No wonder the Republic blasted the place back into the stone age. I am halfway tempted to glass the planet now. It would probably put me in with the Dark Side, but a planet’s worth of Sith loosed upon the galaxy? It might well be worth it.

   I was all for abandoning the place and telling the Republic to reinforce the droids watching the place. The others thought that was a bit overboard. We at least managed to agree to not uplift the locals until we had a better grasp of the situation. Still… leaving them the way they were wasn’t ideal either. Leave more and more generations of children to be eaten by lizards and slowly digested alive?

   Shipwreck had meanwhile identified a life form weighing in at over 60,000 tons. If that was a lizard, I wanted to be no where near it. Further scans revealed that whatever it was either had a slow metabolism like a plant or was in some sort of hibernation. Given the sheer size, I was of the opinion it was either a plant or coral like creature. Suddenly everyone got an interest to see what it was except me, and I got outvoted.

   As Handell landed near the edge of the life signs, we found ourselves at the edge of a forest. Interesting, nothing here looked odd to me but the sense of apprehension was strong – although part of that may just be my apprehension about the whole blasted world. Turns out on closer examination that the forest was really a single tree similar to a banyan tree I’ve seen before. Well that was certainly interesting but not worth investigating in my opinion. Leave it for some botanist. It was Alys who noticed the lack of any small animals whatsoever.

   Uh-oh.

   Well that explained why I was feeling apprehension, I could feel the imbalance in nature. Having learned to pay attention to these nagging feelings of unease and doubt, I elected to stay in the ship for the time being. Most everyone else did the same except Ben who wanted to get samples for some reason. He suited up in that ridiculous sealed gold armor of his and stomped outside. I watched the drama unfold from a viewscreen.

   It wasn’t long after he started gathering samples before a problem occurred. Looked like the sap was effectively glue of some sort. So when Ben had broken a branch and taken samples, he had covered himself in sap and was now glued in place with his hands glued to the jar in his hands.

   Well this was an interesting adaption. I would have thought something would have evolved a defense by now if the species is at all common. Is it artificially engineered then? I could certainly see some of the Sith back at the Academy using this on their properties to keep intruders out. Certainly not a plant I want anywhere near a world I plan to spend time on.

   Meanwhile Ben was stuck. I stood in the doorway out and pondered how I might levitate myself and cut him out with a lightsaber. If that glue was weird enough to stick lightsabers in place, we were going to have problems. Problem got to be, while I could probably cut Ben out, I couldn’t get him back to the ship without getting stuck myself. My telekinetics was just not that good to levitate someone of his size. I struggled enough with myself.

   Jarik had been experimenting with different solvents and figured out that some of the light oils seemed to work reasonably well on the glue sap. Jarik wasn’t too sure how to get the oil to Ben without getting stuck himself, but I was able to handle that with telekinesis. I took my time to better exert fine control, as our supply of oil was limited (although there were jokes – at least I hope they were jokes – from Shipwreck about using antimatter as a solvent). It took considerable time, effort, and oil, but we were able to get Ben back to the ship. Handell refused to let him board though while he was still sticky. The others cleaned Ben off after he refused my offer to cut him out of that suit of his and we were back in the air shortly thereafter.

   Jarik was studying the glue for some obscure medical benefit while the rest of us debated what to do next. Lazlo wanted to visit the shaman again and complete his training and I had no better ideas with the equipment we had. So it was back to the tribe we befriended earlier and meet with their shaman.

   Lazlo and I learned to communicate with the spirits the shaman spoke of. Whatever these things were, they were not Force ghosts. These were much more passive and felt more like a memory bank of people’s lives than anything. It took some searching to find the exact memories I was looking for: it would seem the Sith would put some of their own in stasis at or near the moment of death and then plug the stasis unit into some sort of broadcast system. Force sensitives could then tap into this broadcast to extract knowledge from those stored in it.

   Well this was interesting. It also looked like most of those shoved into the system were defeated rivals and challengers with a minority of volunteers. That certainly explains where the locals were getting their information from. It also explained the shields around the cities, apparently whatever the broadcasting medium was, shields blocked it. Since the Force could read it as well, that implied interesting things about the Force too.

   It also explained why the shamans had been running their tribes and sniping at each other for millennia – and why they were unfamiliar with the development of technology but had kept trying to reclaim the cities and their power supplies.

   Problem was, this thing was stuffed full of Sith lore, and most of it from people who did not volunteer for this. About the only thing that kept these things from becoming like the Jedi brain samples was that these were already mostly dead from what I could tell. Great, mostly dead Sith should be stuffed into stasis archives, all dead Sith I just need to look for loose change in their pockets. Some of the “archives” were badly damaged for various reasons. Others seem to be relatively intact. I could even determine the locations of some of them given time.

   Most of the others voted to dig down, investigate the technology – and get rid of this version of the Sith archives. Maybe then something could be done for the locals without unleashing a Sith Horde on the galaxy.

   It still posed a disturbing dilemma.

   I could chose to use this system and learn what I can and thereby be on more of an even footing with Valerie. By doing that though I am probably doing something vaguely immoral. Plus there is the fact that Sith lore tends to be very corrupting, at least according to the tales of Jedi fallen to the Sith I’ve heard.

   I could also chose to ignore the potential of this system and dismantle it. That would be the moral high road to this all, but I lose access to all that knowledge and lore.

   Sigh, what seems like a choice isn’t really one when I look at it. Valerie is after me and probably knows where I am now. Without something to even the odds, I am going to get caught sooner or later. Access to all this knowledge and lore is about the only way I could hope to gain the upper hand. At least these things aren’t nearly as pushy as Master Soung is.

   Let’s see what surprises I can have in store for Valerie when she inevitably arrives.