And here we have another Star Wars log, primarly from Kira’s viewpoint but with segments inserted to cover what everyone else was up to so that it can serve as a general log as well.
We more or less settled on a plan on how to deal with the Archive systems on Chyran. Ben and Lazlo showed that by carefully tuning shields, you could filter out the carrier – whatever that is – that propagates the whole thing. You could still sense the system was there but not much else. Not a bad compromise in my opinion.
Ben did start going off rattling a bunch of stuff about normal space/hyperspace interfaces and such. Apparently he figured out some kind of working theory on how the whole thing worked. Most of what he said went completely over my head again. I just was not the engineer type. Still, not bad for three days even with a hint.
This still left the problem of how to shield the planet, or at least the cities. We certainly did not have that many functioning shield generators, let alone ones with the requisite power output. This left us with three options: build them with our base, purchase them, or get the Republic to do it. We didn’t have the money to buy them, and our base wasn’t up to the task to building the requisite parts either. So that left trying to convince the Republic to do it. Oh that was going to be fun: “Republic Fleet Headquarters? Hi! For reasons we cannot explain, we’d like you – in the middle of a Sith war – to devote some resources to rebuilding the defenses of some old Sith cities!”
Well that gives us another reason to return to civilization then. I wanted to talk to the Jedi, and Alys wanted to return to her family for some explaining. It seemed like Coruscant was the place to go then to meet all our needs. It took some effort to pry everyone away from playing with the Archives some more, but finally we were ready to leave.
Alys mentioned that she wanted to grab her ship before heading to Coruscant. Apparently her family would be wanting to know she hadn’t lost it or something. Fair enough, although where did we leave it? Ah yes, Alderaan. Well I bet my homeworld will be glad to see us again. Handell complained about the last minute change in destination, but I told him to suck it up. At least we weren’t trying to hurriedly leave while under fire like we have been so often.
The trip to Alderaan was fairly uneventful, I took the time to review the notes accumulated on the Anti-Force, even if they were mostly the speculations of dead Sith. Telera and I debated the findings for some time as well, although we eventually agreed there simply wasn’t enough information at the moment to reach any definite conclusions save one: the Jedi had sealed away some of the information. That at least lent credence to the idea on the most basic level; there was something there that was important enough to seal.
We arrived at Alderaan only to find an even larger fleet than before parked in orbit. Just lovely, now they are going to be placing the responsibility for this on me, aren’t they? Just as soon as they detected us, we got hailed by the fleet. They wanted to know why we were here and how they might facilitate our leaving as quickly as possible. We told them we were here to retrieve Alys’s ship and got an update on the current situation.
It looked like news about the superweapon had leaked, along with the possibility that it might have fallen into Sith hands. More ships had arrived to defend the system from a potential attack while the news reports were promoting almost anything they could find on the topic. This, of course, led to Mrs Beasley being all over the news talking about how my previous “attack” had failed and so now I was bringing a superweapon to kill her cats. The government of Alderaan is probably never going to allow me to come back home again at this rate.
Ben found it pretty amusing. Kira – not too surprisingly – took it personally, but it was pretty obvious to him that no one was taking Mrs Beasley seriously, even if she did make a great guest on talk programs. He’d be surprised if there wasn’t a comedy feature – starring Mrs Beasley, her Jedi Cats, and an invading swarm of Sith Rats – in circulation within the next two months. As for the fleet… It was pretty obvious that the Fleet regarded “Trouble Magnets” during a war as something akin to privateers or special agents, and thought that they should spend as much time as possible deep in enemy territory. Besides, they’d want to oblige the government of Alderaan if at all possible – and he couldn’t blame them for being upset at the moment. Hosting a group that attracted Sith and who turned up stray superweapons in two weeks had to be a bit nervewrackin – and everyone knew that trouble magnets tended to congregate.
My mood was not helped when the Republic fleet “offered” to have someone bring Aly’s ship to us instead of us having to go get it. I read this as an attempt to keep us as far away from the planet as possible. Alys agreed to this and the Republic started to send someone with the ship. Meanwhile I checked in on the reports from the investigation of the asteroid we had dug into not so long ago.
The Republic had managed to tunnel back into the center of the asteroid and confirmed our reports about there remains of a ship being in there. They also confirmed that it all looked to be thoroughly destroyed from heat damage above and beyond what we found; all they had were some traces of hull material. Indications thus far were that the ship had been destroyed as opposed to transported out, although a great deal more digging would be required to verify that.
Now I wasn’t sure what to make of that. Did Valerie not have time or the resources to figure out how to transport the system out of there? Or did she deliberately destroy the system? The first I have a hard time believing because we had already done most of the work already for her. All she had to do was make the target larger. So in that case she destroyed it rather than try to take it with her. But why would she do that? I thought a Sith would have leapt at the chance to get a superweapon like that. I find it hard to believe that someone deep in the Dark Side would pass up such an opportunity.
There is some critical assumption here that I am missing, but what? Ben was muttering something about “spherical symmetry” and power demands, but then he was the engineering type.
I can ponder this – or pin down Ben and get some comprehensible answers – later. In the meantime, the Republic courier had arrived with Alys’s ship. He wanted to know if trouble magnets were like what he had seen in the movies (capable of causing earthquakes, hurricanes, and novas by simply walking around). He seemed to have an odd combination of worry and hero worship… The group alternatively either tried to reinforce that notion or dispel it, according to individual whim. Alys did turn over the idiot extortionist to Republic authorities. I was certain they were going to give him a thorough psychological evaluation as well as interrogation. Not my problem, even if he was trying to claim that the trouble magnets had gotten him scheduled for execution and deported from Hutt space.
Deported? From HUTT SPACE? What was he going to claim he’d done or been framed for?
With Alys’s ship now back in our possession, it was time to head to Coruscant. The trip was once again uneventful, although our arrival certainly was not. Coruscant Port Authority picked up on who we were almost immediately and really wanted us to go elsewhere. It took some effort to convince them to let me land so that I might visit the Jedi Temple. If this is going to be how I am treated by the Republic for being on their side, what the hell am I doing? I am really beginning to wonder at times.
Alys was pleasantly surprised; it looked like they were going to get to skip quarantine and the usual medical inspections! Evidently the military had given them a clean bill of health after their treatments. Still, it was no surprise that the Coruscant Port Authority wasn’t happy with their arrival; Coruscant was one of the most crowded planets in the galaxy, and they had just been visiting a Sith bioweapons facility. If they were carrying some plague, and a couple of trillion died, it wasn’t going to be pretty…
Port Authority directed us to land in an area specified for hazardous materials transport in a heavy industrial sector. Looked like the landing zone was big, empty, thickly walled, and heavily shielded. Alright, this is getting ridiculous the treatment we are being given. A port official came out to meet us as usual, and this one seemed just as nervous. I went out to meet him and tried to explain again that I wished to visit the Jedi Temple. He agreed to grant us entry and rattled off a list of laws and rules we had to abide by. I will admit the limitation on weapons being non area of effect caught me by surprise. I would have thought they would have restricted weapons like Alderaan did. Shows what I know then.
Alys could have told him that Coruscant’s laws were designed to inhibit large-scale violence and anything that might collapse buildings – but, given the mix of species, trying to regulate personal small arms was pretty much impossible. Unlike Alderaan, things like pickpocketing and invasion of privacy weren’t even offenses on Curuscant – although pickpocket victims were not persecuted for smacking around any thieves that they actually caught. Of course, setting off large explosions below floor twenty – near the foundation levels – was punishable by death…
Of course, she’d grown up there; why would she think about things like that? She was worried about visiting (and explaining to) her family…
Ben and Lazlo both had some trouble with the inspector as well – Ben because “Varkash” wasn’t on the registered planets list, and “Varhashite” was not a recognized species, and Lazlo because he couldn’t recall his… [the military had identified it, but had promptly classified it along with everything else about the group]. For the moment, they didn’t even try to get Khadim-17 through. That would have taken a LOT of explaining. Still, the official could find no official grounds for denying them the freedom of Coruscant.
We were going to have to take the slideway transit system from here to a major hub before we could go our separate ways so we climbed aboard. Not much to look at in an industrial sector except the building shredder operating nearby. It seems they were actually shredding entire skyscrapers here for recycling. It seemed rather excessive to me, but I never tried maintaining a city world either. I was watching the spectacle when Ben suddenly pointed to one of the buildings to be shredded and said someone was inside the building.
For once, Ben’s limited range – even if it had expanded a bit, at least in erratic flashes, since his little hyperspace meditation – was actually working to his advantage; he was deaf to most of the mental noise of Coruscant.
How in the hell was he able to sense that? My senses are pretty good these days and all I can sense is the incredible amount of thought noise coming from everyone on the planet. Being able to pick out one person out of all of this was nigh impossible. Ben nevertheless insisted that someone was inside that building. Alright, I really didn’t want to have to do this but it looks like I have no choice. I directed Ben to call the authorities to try and stop the shredder system while I jumped onto the building as we went by.
Shipwreck and Lazlo followed me. Shipwreck timed his jump better than me and Lazlo’s claws were able to dig into the steel and stone facade. Right, note to self, don’t be on the receiving end of those claws. My own jump had me clinging onto a window sill with my levitation barely keeping me from falling off the swinging building. Shipwreck grabbed me and pulled me inside.
Why the hell was I having so much trouble with what should be a simple task? Was the veritable din created by so many people disrupting my concentration that much? This isn’t good then. Now that we were all inside the building, I braced myself on a wall against the swaying and reached out with my senses trying to verify what Ben said. Looked like three individuals down a couple floors and to the left. Shipwreck and his sensor pack of omniscience said pretty much the same thing. Off we went to find a way down through the crumbling, tilted, structure.
All of this seemed awfully convenient to me. We just happened to be wandering by when three people were in mortal danger of being killed? If it wasn’t blatantly impossible I would have said this was all an elaborate trap to kill me. But if this isn’t a trap, then what is going on? Does being a trouble magnet include crap like this too?
Alys, meanwhile, was trying to keep from being noticed in the crowd; all she needed was for her parents to find her in the news again. Ben was busy trying to identify the exact shredder and get past the Irenhorf Recycling companies answering system and support services to someone who could actually shut down the Shredder – and yes, he KNEW that it was illegal to be in the building during transport!
Blast, this was too much distraction at the moment and I needed every ounce of concentration. My precognition was the only thing keeping me on my feet as the entire building swung wildly around and the floor started to split apart. We found a crevice in the floor that we could jump down to reach the floor we wanted. Shipwreck pulled out some rope and lowered it down the crevice while Lazlo flung the other end to Alys, Ben, and Jarik back on the platform. Lazlo stayed there to make sure that things stayed anchored while Shipwreck and I began to climb down the rope.
Once again my Force powers just didn’t seem to be responding as well as they should as I had the hardest time keeping from falling even with levitation. Shipwreck slipped a bit and managed to stop at the right floor but found himself too far from the ledge. He began to swing back and forth towards the ledge and I lent him a telekinetic push after I braced myself on the rope first. He landed began pulling the rope down the passage – and I managed to get on the ledge shortly thereafter after more struggling. I could tell the building was beginning to crumble around us as suddenly it seemed the mechanism moving the building stopped.
Back on the walk beside the slideway, numerous bystanders were snapping pictures and putting in their own reports – while Ben had finally gotten through to shut down the transport systems and the shredder. Now, if only the sudden jerk didn’t start the building crumbling down into the safety fields.
Shipwreck found the three people trapped inside [along with a lot of other details, thanks to a quite incredible sensor check] and I arrived shortly. Looked like three youths had been tied to one of the structural beams and left to die. Since the Sith trap hypothesis seemed unlikely, I wagered they were gang turf war victims. Shipwreck was busy trying to cut the cable tying the kids down with wire cutters when I pushed him aside and pulled out my lightsaber and did the job in three smooth swipes while Shipwreck held them steady. Shipwreck worked on tying the three kids to the rope while I called Ben and asked him to make sure the rope was as secure as he could manage.
My initial plan was to throw my lightsaber along the floor and facilitate a structural collapse designed to swing us out from under the building before the rest came down on top of us. Sadly I had forgotten the turn we had taken in the hallway to get here and I doubted my ability to handle turning the lightsaber telekinetically under these conditions. Well blast, that meant either climbing out before the collapse, or dodging debris when it did.
The decision was taken from us when the bottom segment of the building started to rip away… Shipwreck did what he could to hold the kids to the rope while I tapped into as much power as I could to knock aside debris falling on us – and Lazlo exerted himself to drag the five of us out of the corridor against our weight and the friction of the rope pulling around the corner as the lower floors fell away.
That “super soldier” hypothesis is looking better all the time. For a few moments there, that had to have effectively been four or five tons on that rope. [actually, all three characters spent force points at a nicely heroic moment – Kira to bounce debris and steer them out, Lazlo to pull and hold them, and Shipwreck to hang onto the three youngsters. Definitely a good heroic moment)
After the debris had mostly all fallen, Lazlo helped get us up the rope and back across to the walkway, where the cheering spectators helped pull us up.
Jarik spent some time treating and interrogating the youngsters. It looked like the gang warfare was seriously heating up; a lot of the lower-level gangs had gotten a lot more organized and far nastier in the last few months. The kids were from a local “protect our turf” style gang, and had been resisting being moved in on. Their gang would owe everyone a big one – presuming that most of the others were still alive of course. Sadly, the police really couldn’t be expected to spend much effort on gang warfare amongst juvenile undercitizens. There were areas of the undercity that the police hadn’t penetrated in centuries – and a lot of casinos, ranging from the Telderis – the most deeply-hidden, sleaziest, “bet anything” place on the planet on up to the ultra- respectable Chaffari.
The police arrived within minutes and wanted statements from all of us. They gave me a hard time about being a Force user not registered as a Jedi. I sarcastically reminded them that saving people was obviously a Sith habit. At which point the police felt the need to remind me that they could dig up all sorts of old laws to jail me over. Lazlo asked me to stop antagonizing the authorities but I ignored him. I informed the police of my trouble magnet status and asked if they really wanted to take custody of me.
Alys sighed. The cops were actually being pretty decent, and had readily conceded the heroic worth of the rescue (even if it was of ganger undercitizens); they’d just wanted statements and had been surprised that a force-sensitive could make out anything over the mental din on Coruscant. Kira had gotten snippy, and one of the cops had helpfully tried to point out that – if they’d wanted to – he and the other police could readily be nasty too and that harassing the cops was generally more trouble than it was worth. Was Kira just so rebellious that even the Dark Side couldn’t control him?
Shipwreck turned in his sensor logs, there were certainly plenty of pictures already gone public, there was the recording of Ben’s call, and there was certainly lots of other information to confirm that it had indeed been a rescue.
That gave them pause, especially once they confirmed it. Then began the usual line about “keeping an eye on me” and they asked sarcastically that I not blow up any buildings. They must have picked up how serious I was when I told them “I’ll try” that they proceeded to review my records with a fine tooth comb. They all went pale when they came across the entry on us blowing up skyscrapers on another city world occupied by the Sith. I really wanted to inform them that I’ve probably killed more Sith by accident than they’ve ever seen in their lives, but held my tongue on that one.
Eventually we were sent on our way after they have collected statements. At the major transit hub we went our separate ways. Alys and Jarik went to see her family while Ben, Lazlo and I all were going to head for the Jedi Temple. Shipwreck then announced he was going to follow Alys and Jarik much to Alys’s consernation. What followed was a comical scene with Alys and Jarik trying to lose him while Shipwreck ran screaming down the street with his sensor pack.
I suddenly found myself glad I had Sith to distract them all from meeting my family on Alderaan. Ah yes, Valerie, you saved me from my family and friends meeting this bunch of nutjobs.
That left Ben, Lazlo (with a selection of cameras) and I heading to the Jedi Temple. I stopped by a speeder bike shop on the way. At the rate we were going travelling from one world to another, it seemed prudent to acquire some transportation. A speeder bike would even fit in one of the cargo holds easily too. I found a red and white bike with reasonable options for sale that I liked. It would take most of my credits at this point, but I couldn’t think of a better investment.
New shiny bike in possession and sent back to the ship, we all headed to the Jedi Temple. The place was a case study in arrogance and stupidity. The little park surrounding the place was a display of extravagence and yet did little in my opinion to calm the noise battering at my senses. It would have been smarter in my opinion to build on one of the moons or something away from all of this. Sadly I suspected the Republic was contributing to the situation by mandating that the Jedi keep their headquarters on Coruscant itself – where the little park, however much it might make them look arrogant, was the best that they could do to keep everyone sane. Just how many Jedi became Sith because of this stupid nonsense?
Meanwhile the stupid ditz behind the counter kept trying to shove us into the (semi-) public tour. [Sadly, Lazlo and his cameras and tourist-enthusiasm certainly made that look appropriate]. It took several tries to explain I didn’t want some damned tour, I wanted to request access to locked files. Finally she brought in some Jedi with one of those frustrating smiles like he was remembering some old joke. He at least recognized we had power [and that the elders would want to talk to the collection of trouble magnets, and that the current recommendation from the Seer’s was “leave them alone”) and seemed especially interested in Ben and Lazlo. I couldn’t decide if I should be insulted or relieved that I wasn’t being prodded and interrogated.
Lazlo tried some of his Sith-derived Shamanic Techniques to contact the local spirits – there did seem to be something deep down – and promptly elicited some probes.
He did comment that Lazlo needed to learn control and the meditations. I apparently thought a bit too loudly the comment that the meditations had the annoying side effect of turning you into a humorless dick as the Jedi gave me a look – although it could have just been some of the things that I actually said. That prompted the question from him as to whether I had ever been here before. I replied no, and he told me he recalled an “Echo” (whatever that was supposed to be) of me showing up and dropping in on the place from above. Now I will admit to strongly considering that months ago when we talked about talking to the Jedi the first time just to make an impression and to avoid the parking fees. However we ended up going one of the local temples out on the midrim and the point became moot. Apparently this guy was able to pick up on just the fact I had considered it? Not sure if I should be impressed or disturbed. Would that have been a major turning point or something if I had done it?
He gave us a special tour of the facility at that point – it did have some very dramatic architecture – and asked us about why we were there. A quick discussion with Lazlo revealed he was in denial that he had any Force ability. Apparently Lazlo was under the delusion that shaman powers were not Force powers. The Jedi tried to argue the point for some time but finally gave up and gave Lazlo happy pills to make the dark spirits go away.
For once I couldn’t argue. Better that Lazlo have some happy pills than that he go on the a dark side rampage with HIS physical abilities and actual force powers.
Discussion came back to me and my request to open the files on the Anti-Force. My explanation that I wanted at the very least to either turn off my Force powers or find some other way to live a normal emotion life led to the Jedi trying to sell the meditations again. Reminding him of my lack of potential as a Jedi led to him pushing the pills again. Sigh, I pocketed the pills and went on the explain the Anti-Force theory. The Jedi insisted that such a thing could not be possible as inanimate things do not radiate energy like living things do.
Meanwhile Alys and Jarik had gotten some new clothes to suit the latest fashions, had called ahead, and were off to impress Alys’s parents – if that was at all possible. Shipwreck was still tailing them, although he had gotten some new clothes of his own, and had traced them to the right tower when his talents backlashed on him. He was leaning slightly over the edge of the cab he’d called when the safety restraint failed while the driver was turning – and he toppled over the side at nearly fifteen hundred feet. He’d barely fallen twenty when he bounced off another car and was hurled through a window in a spray of safety glass to roll down the corridor and wind up leaning upside-down at Alys and Jarik’s feet, right up against Alys’s parents door, when her father opened it.
From their point of view, he’d apparently launched himself up to floor 140. Alys’s father looked, sighed, and said “I take it the trouble magnet thing is serious?”.
Alys paid the cabby (who was not pleased) while Jarik treated Shipwreck. Dinner was tense – although both Jarik and Shipwreck managed to impress Alys’s father (her mother and younger brother would be back in a few days) with their competence – even if, in Shipwrecks case, it was in demolitions and salvage and marginal sanity. Alys stuck with basic hunting stories, but they also met her parent’s new servants – some Viwiltofs, a new species of short and vaguely lemur-like creatures. A few thousand had arrived as refugees about four months back, and had mostly taken service-sector jobs.
That got interrupted by news report – picked out by the computers due to a reference to Alys – on their earlier rescue. Alys’s father was oddly pleased. At least his daughter was traveling with a good doctor and some throughly competent people, even if Shipwreck was a bit doubtful. Still, he did recommend that she stop paying for ship repairs for random people…
Alys withdrew with dignity.
Well if there was nothing to the Anti-Force concept, then it shouldn’t be a problem to let me look at the files then. How dangerous could a list of negative results be? That did get Mr Jedi to admit that there had to be something there – the files must have been locked for a reason – even if it was just to keep curiosity -seekers to keep from killing themselves. He agreed to inform the Jedi Council of our request, and said that it would be twenty-four to forty-eight hours before they could see us. In the meantime, the Jedi would provide us with accomodations until then.
I spent my time perusing the Jedi Archives and the Net looking up information on lightsabers. I was particularly interested in any records on what I’ve been calling the darksaber concept. Once I was finished reviewing the available materials, I spent much of my time in the lightsaber combat training simulator. The system was obviously not designed to account for the use of a shield and it took some fiddling to get it responding somewhat correctly. Best setting I found was to list myself as wielding two lightsabers with one shorter than the other.
Ben spent time looking up experiments involving artificial gravity fields and the force. It seemed that high gravity fields caused odd perceptual disturbances, very high fields threw manipulation effects off towards the center of the field, no one had been able to probe inside a black hole using the force (although one force-user had vanished right out of his oddly-damaged ship trying it), and gravity modulators could give force-user’s headaches. Nothing that exactly matched his theories – and his ideas for experiments were pretty large-scale and specific. Trying to build a model of a cells chemical structure out of gravity generators was a bit of a project. Hmm… Did force monotalents come with antiforce talents? Could that be why talents always had a price of some sort?
The next day saw Alys, Jarik and Shipwreck show up at the Jedi Temple to join us – although Jarik simply checked in and promptly headed for a casino. One of them had apparently noticed a new sapient species running around the planet similar to lemurs and acting as servants. Ok, well that was maybe mildly interesting. New species are discovered every so often given the size of the galaxy. So what if they were refugees? I mean, stars detonate every year, ecologies collapse, and we are in the middle of a war after all.
Then someone pointed out a population discrepency of about 50:1 over the course of four months. Ok, that is a little bit weird, but I am willing to bet that the immigration office didn’t count the number of lemurs on each ship and instead counted ships. Or they failed to count those in hibernation, or being brought in to join their relatives, or something like that. Even when you are a trouble magnet, it doesn’t mean you have to go looking for conspiracies and trouble. Sort of like digging for superweapons, but fuzzier.
Besides, I have a hard time rationalizing this as a Sith plot to attack the capitol. It would be much easier to sneak common soldiers in along with some former Jedi that the Republic hasn’t caught on to yet. Breeding an entire species of super soldiers like Lazlo would be too time consuming for the benefit. Droids or conscripts work so much easier and are much cheaper.
But if they want to investigate this further while we wait another twenty-four hours for the Jedi Council to meet us, then they can have at it. Besides, what can I do to stop them anyway?