And here we have another piece from Kira’s player, with only a few minor edits.
Valerie Soung, Trayus Academy, Malachor V
The medic informed me that Kira would be able to use his arm again tomorrow, although it may not be as sturdy for a few days. No matter, I can restrain myself better in the future during our sparring if that is what it really takes. Besides, I had something else I wanted to do today now.
My bike was where I left it out in the plaza. I was about to get on when a thought occurred to me. Heading back into the house, I grabbed a proper powercell for my lightsaber and put on my bracers. It looked like Thelos had gotten the technicians to add additional plating and insulation between the electronics and my arm. That should prevent a repeat of events like my first fight with Jurin. Now properly armed, I went back outside and got aboard my bike.
My destination was the Sith Archive on the far side of town. A massive structure towering over the landscape, it was one of the central repositories of knowledge outside the Republic. Rumors of archivists going insane and engaging in dark rituals of blood and depravity inside were just that – at least in my experience – although I will admit that the Dark Side is strong in the Archive. Especially in the holocron room, where the holocrons of some of the strongest and most powerful Sith Lords for several millenia reside.
Good thing the holocron room was not my destination. I wanted to see the computer archives and interact with them. I parked in the underground lot and entered the elevator shaft that would take me to the lobby. The lobby itself was guarded by numerous battle droids.
(Computer) Please enter the scan area highlighted.
A circle of flooring illuminated and I stepped onto it. Multiple rings of sensors designed to scan for any attempts at impersonations rose out of the floor and rotated around me. Even changelings would swiftly be caught by the system according to the designers. The archivists did not want anyone not authorized to enter, and were willing to use force if necessary.
(Computer) Presence of bacta detected in right shoulder and on left arm. Initiating strain verification scan.
More lights glowed on the rings and the rotation pattern changed. I felt my arm and shoulder begin to feel very warm as they gave off a fluorescent glow. Suddenly the glow and warmth faded and the rotating rings fell back into the floor from whence they came.
(Computer) Verification of medical bacta strain 11037-C completed. All biometrics confirm identity of Valerie Cyrne Soung. You are cleared to enter.
Large blast doors opened the way to the Archive itself. A tiny old man wearing the colors of the archive stood there waiting for me.
(Archivist) Ah, Ms Soung, what can I do for you today?
I really did not like the lack of honorifics when the archivists addressed me, but it was one of the privileges of their position. Trying to make a point of it would accomplish nothing anyway. I was in their territory as their guest. I still hated that condescending smile they all seemed to share.
(Valerie) I wish to access materials on lightsaber crystals.
(Archivist) Well, we have plenty of materials on lightsaber crystals, is there anything in particular you wish to see?
(Valerie) Color specifically and what significance it might entail.
(Archivist) Very well then, I shall have the appropriate materials gathered and indexed for you. Is there anything else you wish to see while you wait?
(Valerie) I wish to learn about Alderaan.
(Archivist) Alderaan? Well, you are free to enter the holorooms and interact with them as you please. Would you like for us to inform you when the other materials you requested are ready?
(Valerie) No, inform me when I have completed my other work.
The archivist showed signs of annoyance at that, but did nothing more than bow politely and gesture to the holorooms. Of the over one hundred rooms, looked like a third were taken. I entered room 56 and waiting for the system to start. The lights went dim and a holographic depiction of Malachor V floated in the air.
(Computer) Welcome to the Trayus Archive, what information would you like to view?
(Valerie) I wish to learn about Alderaan.
The holo in front of me changed to depict Alderaan, scaled to nearly ten meters tall with it’s moons in orbit. The computer then began to read the entry on it aloud.
(Computer) Alderaan: one of the founding members of the Republic and a major political and economic power within the Core.
It then began to rattle off a list of important figures and historic moments for the planet in exhausting detail. The sheer number of Sith attacks on the planet was staggering. I doubt that there is any other planet in the galaxy that has taken nearly as many assaults from superweapons and survived. Coruscant didn’t receive this kind of attention. I could be here for years though if I wanted this level of detail.
(Valerie) Show me Crevasse City.
The image of the slowly rotating planet stopped and then zoomed in on a canyon on one of the continents. First an overview showing a city actually built into the wall of the canyon, then floor by floor cross sections of the city came into view. Soon the system began to list major landmarks and highlighting them in the overview display. I switched the display to street level view and tried to see the city through the eyes of someone who walked there.
While the world and city was beautiful, the place was more like a walled garden or art gallery than a wild and living place. For a world that embraced diversity and expression, there certainly was a lot of enforcement of conformity.
I wandered around more street views and prominent sites before concluding this wasn’t giving me the insight I was looking for. I requested a copy of the materials I had perused be copied onto disk for me and left the holoroom.
Outside was a droid waiting for me with a datapad, containing the indexed information on lightsaber crystals I had asked about.
Sitting at one of the tables and reading through it took several more hours. The color of lightsaber crystals was related to the monopole doping. Naturally occurring crystals tended to be random in their doping, but blue, green and red were most common colors to occur. Artificial crystals took their doping color from the pattern of the Force user that grew them. That much I knew, but what the colors meant about the Force pattern of the creator was not well understood but thought to relate to personality. A red crystal was a common sign of a Sith and the Dark Side, but it was not a sure thing either. There were a great number of lists suggesting what colors went with what personality traits, but many of them contradicted each other.
I wasn’t able to find any legitimate records of a pink lightsaber either. After all a lightsaber normally radiated a fairly narrow range of frequencies, and pink was red and white – a full spectrum spread with some extra red. Ultraviolet was pretty exotic, but there had been examples of sabers with radiant frequencies outside the common visual spectrum – although most of them had visual harmonics as well. The commonly-visible spectrum was a fairly narrow band after all. Well this trip was largely a waste of my time. All I’ve learned is that two lightsabers seem to be near unique for all intents and purposes, but it is unclear as to why.
It was now getting late in the day and time for me to head back to the residence. I collected the files I wanted to review later onto a datapad and left the Archive. As I approached my bike, I became aware of a pair of individuals watching me from another set of bikes. They did not look to be Force sensitive judging from what I could sense. I pretended to ignore them and climbed on my bike after putting the datapads into the pack.
They powered theirs on at the same time I did. Heading off back towards the residence, they fell in line behind me. I decided to head out over the water in a move designed to test their intentions. The waves were large and roiling from the aftermath of the storm that was currently heading south, granting me plenty of moving cover. I quickly got my answer as to their intentions as a blaster was shot in my direction but was blocked by a wave. Someone had sent assassins against me, that much was certain.
Out over the bay, several things worked to my advantage: I had better awareness of my surroundings than line of sight would have suggested, the ability to break their line of sight, and the waters blocked longer range weapons. Reaching out with my senses, I could feel one behind me and to the left and the other was on my right side.
I eased back on the throttle and pulled to my right behind the one on that side. I would have a few moments before they realized I was no longer between them to act. Using my bracers wasn’t going to work well in these circumstances so I grabbed my lightsaber and readied it before hitting the throttle to take me over this wave and right behind the one in front of me.
I came over the wave, lightsaber blazing to cut the assassin in half only to find the bike driverless. Did he fall off and into the bay? I caught the image of someone flying above me with a blaster and moved to block. Turning the bike at the speed I was moving only really served to change my orientation for the moment, but that was enough to bring my lightsaber in line to block the two blaster bolts shot at me.
I also got a glimpse of who shot at me. It was one of my pursuers, now flying with a jetpack and trying to take potshots at me. Well crap, that gave them the maneuverability advantage and better line of sight. My options: dive into the water, flee back to the residence, or stay on the bike and fight them. I didn’t have much hope of being able to outrun them both right now and fighting them under these conditions was to my disadvantage. So I dove into the water as soon as a wave blocked their vision.
The water was very cold and I didn’t dress for this sort of activity. The cold I could handle, but the wet clothes were going to make a nuisance of themselves. I refuse to fight naked though. I could sense the flyer chase after the bike for a few moments before stopping and returning. The one on the bike was also circling. It looks like they realized I was no longer on my bike. Judging from the circling pattern, the one on the bike would pass over me in a few minutes. I took a deep breath and dove beneath the water.
The one on the bike must have seen me or something as he stopped about five meters ahead. Drat, well time to swim then. Swimming underwater with these clothes was not easy and I ended up losing my oxygen technique concentration towards the end. Since I was rapidly running out of air, it was time to attack. A quick enhanced leap out of the water and a flick of the lightsaber cut that bike in two. The rider fell into the bay with a scream and a splash. My own leap took me over the waves for a moment and I was able to confirm the position of the flyer to my right.
Landing on the water’s rough surface while trying to use a technique to allow me to walk on it was difficult. The waves sent me sliding every which way and without my precognition it would have been impossible to stand. I could probably walk like this, but running on the water like I had planned was out of the question. The surface provided an easy focus, but it was too unstable to be very useful – and levitation would be too predictable.
No choice then.
As the flyer came over the last wave, I shot out an arc of lightning towards him. I was hoping to disrupt the controls on his pack and send him into the bay as well but no luck as lightning hit the water and shorted out. Well I suppose that makes sense. More blaster shots came my way and I blocked them in turn. The surface just wasn’t stable enough to parry the shots back at him. I suddenly became aware of the remaining bike coming up from behind me at high speed.
No time to dodge or jump out of the way, I did the only thing I could do: I dropped the water walking technique. Back into the water I went and the bike sailed through the space I was just in and into the assassin. That explosion was most satisfying to hear. Climbing back onto the surface of the water, I went looking for the remaining assassin but was unable to find him. He probably sank into the bay with all that armor and gear he wore.
That left me wet, cold and out in the middle of the bay. My bike wasn’t far and I should be able to get it by walking. It eventually proved to be more productive to jump from wave to wave instead of trying to walk the distance to my bike. Making another pass around the area to see if I overlooked anything, I headed back to the residence.
The rest of the ride back to the residence was uneventful save for the rain that ended my hopes of drying out soon. I arrived at the residence wet, cold, hungry and very annoyed at the world. Thelos was waiting for me as always.
(Thelos) My Lady, I must admit I was worried for I’ve been expecting you for some time now.
(Valerie) I was ambushed by two people out over the bay. I’ve confirmed the kill of one of them and the destruction of both their bikes. The other one is probably at the bottom of the bay now.
(Thelos) I am sorry to hear that, but I am glad you took care of things. May I fetch something for you?
(Valerie) A hot bath, warm clothes and hot food.
(Thelos) Very well then, you shall find the bath waiting when you arrive. I shall have Gab warm some clothes and get something from kitchen when you are ready.
The bath was inviting after the cold waters of the bay. Even with Force powers to stave off the cold and heat, the body still wants to be within a certain temperature range to be comfortable. I laid in there for some time pondering what had just happened. I didn’t get a good look at either of my attackers, and the lack of Force powers ruled out most people I knew. So probably hired hit men for someone. Now who would be silly enough to think two talentless mooks would be able to kill me?
Someone who obviously didn’t know me. – or someone who saw nothing to lose by taking a long shot or whom didn’t care if the attack succeeded.
Alright, if they didn’t know me, then why were they sending attackers against me? Was I a rival for someone they favored? Or had I wronged them in the distant past? Or was this the fallout of one of Father’s political battles? Too bad both my attackers were dead, otherwise I could interrogate them for answers. Was this attack also related to the whole Jurin thing? Maybe Mother was right to believe someone is behind all of this then. Should I talk with her then?
It took some amount of willpower to leave the bath and dry off. Gab was there with fresh clothing and food just as Thelos said as well. The injuries to her face and arms seem to be healing nicely. She had also cut her hair so that it was in a different style than mine, which was good. I don’t like being reminded of that video I had to watch. I dressed and ate while I debated what to do next.
Finding out who was attacking me was definitely a priority. Figuring out how and why Kira was resisting Father was also a concern if only because it would be a waste to lose a promising sparring partner. Father has never had this kind of difficulty before with an apprentice.
Hmm, maybe Mother could provide some insight into both of these issues. She might even keep the conspiracy theorizing to a minimum if I am lucky. Best to talk to her in the morning and see what she has to say.
Gab collected the dishes and made to leave me to bed. I did ask her to get a report on Kira’s condition come morning for me. She seemed more than happy to do that for some reason. I wasn’t curious enough to ask further.
That night I dreamed of a large gathering of people out in a field somewhere. They seemed to know each other very well and were happily enjoying themselves out there. I couldn’t make out any of the conversations but knew they were sharing stories. Two of the people there, a man and a woman, looked familiar somehow, but I could not place it. Suddenly they all seemed to notice something in my direction and waved.
Morning once again came too early. Gab already had the bath and clothing waiting for me. It was tempting to lay there in the bath and fall back asleep again, but I really needed to speak with Mother this morning. She was typically more agreeable and rational in the mornings. Father said sleep helped her consolidate the visions that grew increasingly erratic over the day. I wondered why she didn’t nap more if that was the case. She claimed it had something to do with being proper.
I found Mother outside in the yard drawing some diagram in the grass. The design was rather elaborate with multiple interlinking and connecting circles. I wondered what ritual she thought she was doing this time.
(Mother) You have a question, Valerie?
(Valerie) I see your precognition is working better today.
(Mother) It works far more often than you realize child. I recommend you pay more attention to the powers of prophecy.
(Valerie) I would if they weren’t so vague or unreliable. Trying to make sense of most of them is a fool’s game.
(Mother) They don’t make sense because you have failed to put the pieces together is all. If you’d only listen when I tell you these things.
(Valerie) I am not going to sink into that mess of conspiracy theories you keep speaking of.
(Mother) They are not conspiracy theories. They are the culmination of decades of divination. If you would learn a little respect once in a while…
(Valerie) Can we get to the questions I have before we completely repeat this old argument?
It took a moment for Mother to compose herself. She gets caught up in these theories trying to make sense of all the “prophecies” she has seen. From what I have seen, 95% of them appear to be bogus from the start, like the one about how a jellyfish would bring a fleet to it’s knees.
(Mother) Very well then, ask.
(Valerie) I have two major questions. First is I’ve was attacked yesterday evening for reasons that are difficult to ascertain and I was wondering if you had any insight. Second is what is going on with Kira and Father?
(Mother) For your first question, I ask you another in turn: do you know who attacked you?
(Valerie) Two talentless thugs I have never meant before or never paid attention to if I had.
(Mother) Hmm, certainly sent by someone hoping to get lucky then, but didn’t want to risk being exposed. I would say one of your Father’s rivals, but this seems different from the usual.
(Valerie) Someone else then?
(Mother) Indeed, someone after your Father and you but isn’t quite ready to show themselves yet. They will reveal themselves in due time. Best stay on your toes Valerie.
(Mother) As for you other question. Keldav is a fundamentally rebellious child. It probably stems from growing up on such a peaceful world. Your Father thinks Keldav is rebelling against authority and so hopes to use that in forcing him to the Dark Side. Keldav has proceeded to act in an unexpected manner in response.
(Valerie) Actively avoiding calling on the Dark Side like Father wants?
(Mother) More than that, it seems he is actively avoiding calling on either the Light Side or the Dark Side. He walks a very fine line in doing that. It illustrates a level of self-awareness and control that would do well as a Varen, but your father is having difficulty pushing him towards the test needed.
Interesting, so all indications are that Kira would make a decent Varen. However the very qualities that make him an good candidate are also the same qualities preventing him from achieving the first test. All the pushing in the galaxy is only going to make him resist that much harder with that rebellious attitude. Father has an interesting problem here. It may be worth checking on family and friends of Kira’s back on Alderaan. There is more than one way to kill a mark.
I left Mother to her rituals again. I now had plenty to think about anyway. Father would find a way to force Kira to the Dark Side soon enough. All I had to do there was serve as an example to be feared and envied by him. Simple enough and in due time Kira will join us as one of the Varen. It’s not like the odds of him escaping are at all good.
More tutoring followed at the Academy. This morning was martial arts training with Master Luarn. Luarn was no longer Force-sensitive after an accident some time ago with a failed apprentice. That same accident left him more or less a sack of organs within a cybernetic shell as well. Some of the others at the Academy thought his lack of Force powers made him weak.
I knew better.
I’ve personally seen the results of Sith that have mistaken him for some mere droid. Master Luarn’s cybernetic body was faster, stronger and more flexible than any normal person could possibly hope to match. While he could no longer use a lightsaber, his hands and feet could be just as deadly. While he had plenty of more conventional weapons built into his frame, he liked using his “bare” hands to make a point.
Practice was going well enough. Me and my bracers against his cybernetic enhancements. I had already mastered most of the forms and techniques in practice. Now it was merely bringing it all together and doing it repeatedly so it became reflex. That was what sparring with Master Luarn was about. Problem was, I could sense Master Luarn was always holding himself back. It was hard to see how far I can push myself when everyone around me keeps holding back.
(Luarn) I heard you had problems with a changeling the other day.
(Valerie) Did Father tell you that?
(Luarn) No, but the Varen community here at Trayus is small. It is hard to keep secrets for long.
(Valerie) I put up more of a fight than Faer managed to. He lost both of his legs in the fight.
(Luarn) Lucky for him the doctors determined his legs can be reattached. Maybe he will learn to be more careful when dealing with potentially competent opponents. But something still puzzles me. How was that changeling able to incapacitate you so readily?
(Valerie) He didn’t readily incapacitate me.
(Luarn) Come now Valerie, I know you well enough to realize he must have gotten a good shot in right at the beginning to have stood a chance at all. So how did he get you?
(Valerie) It seems that Jurin had contaminated the bacta used to heal my injuries from an earlier fight with him.
(Luarn) Really? Rather foresighted for him then. Although the medical facilities should be very secure against that sort of thing. Any idea how he contaminated the bacta?
It never occurred to me to ask that. I just assumed he managed to swap canisters, but that wouldn’t work. Only specific personnel had that level of access. Even a Force-sensitive changeling couldn’t get past all the security on the medical supplies. That implies an inside contact.
That was disturbing. The medical staff here at Trayus weren’t under Varen control. They fell under the Baramour sect. Baramour kept their word at all costs. That was the primary reason they were allowed to run medical facilities. Their medical experiments may be highly objectionable, but they could be counted on to heal with all the professionalism of a full medical droid. The idea that someone has gotten a mole inside the medical staff here was highly unpleasant to say the least.
I couldn’t remember the face of the medic who healed me after my first bout with Jurin. Maybe this is what Father means when he says I need to pay more attention to the servants. I always assumed he meant to not treat them harshly. Ignoring them as unimportant could prove deadly it seems.
(Valerie) I suspect someone on the inside assisted him.
(Luarn) A suspician with disturbing implications. You would suggest our trust in the Baramour may be unfounded.
(Valerie) I know, I am not sure how to proceed though. Accusing them now would only lead to more strife within the Sith. We can’t afford that in the middle of a war.
(Luarn) Quite true, I suggest seeing what you can learn before making accusations. There may be more to this, or it may just turn out to be one of the medical staff proved weaker in integrity than the Baramour thought.
(Valerie) I will, Master Luarn. You have proven you still have things to teach me.
(Luarn) Oh, don’t think I’ve taught you everything I know, young Valerie. You’ve just proven more proficient at the things I have chosen to teach you.
We finished practice shortly thereafter. I had general sciences tutoring this afternoon, but in the meantime I had a few hours to investigate some matters.
Time to visit the medical facilities.