Here we have the next entry in the Valerie Soung series from Kira’s player, with some fairly minimal editing.
Valerie Soung, Trayus Academy, Malachor V
Investigating the medical facility was going to be tricky no matter how I tried it. Never mind the fact that, if I was caught, it could lead to fighting between the Baramour and the Varen. Not something we want going on in the middle of a war. Sadly, the information I needed could only be found in the medical facility.
Looks like the only way to do this is going to be to sneak in. I didn’t have time to try to do it now, between classes. Better to think this out and plan it for either tonight or tomorrow night. How to sneak in?
I went to the commons room and sat down on one of the couches while I pondered my situation. The new batch of recruits apparently arrived today. It was easy to tell with the crying, bullying, and minor fights breaking out. Soon enough, the weak would be eliminated and the survivors would fit themselves into the existing pecking order. That usually spelled headaches for me for two reasons: idiots touching me, and idiots looking to make a name for themselves. The touchers are usually the idiots that decide to indulge themselves without learning who they are dealing with. It usually only takes one fatality to end that nonsense until the next batch.
The idiots looking to make a name for themselves are another problem. They usually know enough to realize I am the top student here, but never seem to do enough research to realize why. Killing the first one only seems to encourage the second one to make a try. They just refuse to believe that I managed to kill everyone so far. Last time around it finally ended when three of them ganged up on me and died in the process in front of the entire class. I was not looking forward to having to go through that nonsense yet again. There had to be a better way to organize things.
I saw the Jedi Rena Olys standing in the rear of the room. She seemed to be perfectly in control of herself. She has probably been practicing the Jedi Meditations for decades if that stony face is any indication. She should prove relatively competent whenever one of the Masters finally breaks her resistance to the Dark Side.
I figured Revan’s former apprentice Crasus Threen was in the middle of that commotion in the center of the commons. I could feel that two rather powerful opponents were fighting all out over there but I wasn’t going to gawk like the lowlifes around here. I don’t need to live vicariously through others to get my thrills.
I picked up a datapad and idly browsed various topics while planning how to sneak into the medical facility in my head. Trying during the night was the obvious tactic, and would certainly be expected – but sneaking in during broad daylight was going to be even harder. Do I try and sneak in tonight or tomorrow night? I couldn’t think of any external circumstances that favored one or the other, so I opted to use tonight to plan and prepare for a run tomorrow night. It was obvious that stealth would be favorable in all of this. That meant it was time to break out my assassination gear.
I was just about to mentally check off a list of gear to unpack when something collided with the couch I was sitting on. The impact tipped over the couch and spilled me onto the floor. If whoever had caused that wasn’t dead already, he would be soon.
I tapped into my talents to enhance my strength and shoved the couch off of me and into the air. Another bit of Force flipped me up onto my feet. Furniture was thrown all over the place from the ongoing battle. It looked like the poor sap that collided with my couch was hit with one of the many blasts of telekinetic force being flung around. There was no point in taking issue with him now that his neck appeared to be broken. A couple of idiots laughing at the carnage stopped as soon as they noticed me and fell back.
Looking at the fight itself, it looked like Crasus Threen was fighting another one of the new recruits I did not recognize. While apparently evenly matched, Crasus seemed to have greater power, but the other one seemed to have greater skill. Whatever dispute that was at the center of this was not my concern, but the destruction was getting out of hand. Looks like I had no choice but to step in.
Stepping into that melee using only my bracers was asking for trouble so I needed to step things up a bit. Enough students were lying around either dazed or unconscious to make it easy to telekinetically grab two lightsabers. Using someone else’s lightsabers was never quite as effective as using your own, but I really needed to make a statement here and pink didn’t cut it. I walked near the pair and ignited the lightsabers.
Activating my precognition, the pair of fighters exploded into a flurry of images and possibilities. It was easy to tell that the pair became aware of me then as several probability trees suddenly truncated and more flared into being in response to my presence. They knew I came prepared to fight and fell back to separate decisions were they could keep an eye on each other and me. It became a classic three way standoff.
(Valerie) From my point of view, you have two choices. First is to cease this nonsense now and resolve your dispute elsewhere where it won’t cause so much damage. The second option is to continue as you were and face me too.
It was a gamble, I will admit that. Together, they could probably pose a significant threat. On the other hand, a quick glance told me the new guy hated Crasus with a passion. Crasus was unreadable above and beyond that evil smile he wore. Father had told me about people like this. When they’re just normal people they’re called psychopaths, in Force users, they’re called the Nephar – or just monsters. Very difficult to read and even more difficult to predict, they were dangerous to the extreme.
Not good, I had thrust myself into the middle of this too soon. It might be prudent to make a temporary alliance with the new guy to kill Crasus. Hopefully he would be too distracted killing Crasus to think of backstabbing me.
(Loud Voice) Alright, that’s enough. Put away your weapons immediately and return to your classes.
I didn’t dare turn my head to see who it was, but it sounded like one of the instructors had arrived and was trying to break up the stalemate. An instructor could excuse me for not lowering my weapons until I see his face myself. In the meantime, I watched Crasus and the other recruit to see their reactions since they could actually see the instructor. Crasus was as difficult to read as the first time, but the other guy appeared to be swallowing his pride and deactivated his lightsaber. Crasus followed suit moments later. Neither let up on the precognition so the blur of images and possibilities continued. Instructor Niles stepped up beside me outside lightsaber range.
(Instructor Niles) Alright, Ms Soung, you may put away those weapons you acquired. And you, Mr Threen and Mr Rocvo, are to clean this mess up that you’ve made.
Again with the lack of honorifics. If Master Niles wasn’t an instructor I would teach him proper manners. A veritable toad of a man more interested in his alchemy and concoctions than proper Sith studies. Nevertheless, I deactivated the lightsabers and dropped them to the floor. Their owners could retrieve the things themselves if they were still alive. After making sure that the two fighters were preoccupied with Master Niles, I went back to the sofa I was sitting on.
A quick bit of telekinetics flung the dead body draped over it off and towards the pile the servants were collecting. Another push flipped the sofa back onto it’s feet with the cushions all in order. Great, the datapad I had been using was crushed by the furniture. Not that it was much of a bother to float another one to my hands, but it was the sheer idea of it all.
I sat down and completed my mental checklist of items I would need to infiltrate the medical center. With that completed I still had a couple of hours until my next class to kill and so called up some games on the datapad to amuse myself until then.
General Sciences was my next class and one of the more boring ones in my entire education. Yes, I realize the importance of understanding the basic operating principles of the world around me, but some of the bits on stellar system formation are better suited to xenogeologists than to someone like me. It wasn’t like the evolution of stars was something that I was going to have to supervise. Still, it was expected that I take the class and to excel at it, no matter how dull the material.
Finally classes were over and it was time to head back to the residence. The chauffeur met me outside and took me back home. Once there Thelos was waiting for me as usual with some sort of news.
(Thelos) My Lady, dinner is about ready and your father wishes you to resume practice again afterwards with Master Keldav. He fears he will be unable to watch over the session this time, so he asks that you be careful.
Father was probably out playing politics again. No way to tell at the moment if it was Academy politics again or internal Varen matters. I am sure I will hear an earful about it all before it’s over. Academy politics usually end with someone dead from getting too greedy. At least the Varen discussions were largely about financial matters and resource allocation.
Dinner with Mother was rather nice, save for the rant about how the rodent people of Elydas XII were secretly manipulating currency exchange rates in that sector of the galaxy. I find it hard to believe that hoarding currency is particularly nefarious in a species known for hording everything not nailed down. There is a reason why their homeworld’s gravity has measurably increased over the last few millennia, even if the stories that it’s actually their third homeworld, since the first two have collapsed into black holes due to excessive hoarding, seem more than a bit unlikely – although I did find the fable about the first Elydasien to discover plutonium to be rather humorous.
Huh. Maybe that stuff on gravitational physics has a few small possibilities for amusement after all.
After dinner I found Kira waiting for me in the sparring room practicing. Watching him for a few minutes told me his arm was still very tender from the breaks he had endured. It was also clear that the shield he was wearing was too heavy for that arm in his current state. The weight may help in blocking attacks that hit, but being able to move and hold it in position was just as important.
I’m going to have to do something about that.
(Kira) So are you just going to stand there and watch today?
(Valerie) I was trying to get a feel for how well you might perform today so that I don’t accidently break something else. Too many bacta treatments in short succession can cause some serious issues.
(Kira) I can handle more of this if that is what you are implying.
(Valerie) Very well then, let’s see what you’ve retained since last time.
We started with the basic stance again and worked our way through them in sequence. Restraining myself took a great deal of concentration. That neatly gave him enough of a handicap to keep things interesting as we went on. He ability to wield the Force and fight at the same time was improving, although he was obviously avoiding anything that would lead to the Dark Side. So we danced, Kira trying to avoid falling to the Dark Side, and me trying to avoid killing him. Soon enough though, Kira began to tire and it was time to rest for a bit.
(Valerie) Let me see that shield of yours.
(Valerie) I want to test the feel and weight a bit.
He was hesitant at first to part with it, probably concerned about how vulnerable he was at the moment. Eventually he handed it over and I took it. The shield was obviously meant to strap to the left arm which made it backwards for me as I wanted to put it on my right arm initially. After taking a moment to put it on the correct arm, I moved it around a bit trying to get a feel for the shape and weight. The weight was a bit heavier than I would have liked, but it was well within my limits especially if I augmented my strength.
Shape was good too, although I felt an symmetrical shield might have worked better for someone that swapped hands frequently. It seemed like the biggest issue with the weight was it needed to be thick enough to block a real lightsaber swipe. Most materials that would keep the size reasonable would make the weight difficult. To really be effective, it would need to weigh about half what it currently does.
Maybe there was a way to lighten it without losing stopping power.
(Thelos) Yes, my Lady?
(Valerie) Bring me a spare set of bracers and some tools.
(Thelos) As you wish.
(Kira) What are you doing?
(Valerie) Improving the design.
Some of the House servants showed up moments later with a spare set of my bracers and the tools I requested. First I disassembled the arm bracers to get at the shield generators in each. It took some fiddling to get the two shield generators to align with each other correctly and I ended up blowing the cutoffs once. But I finally linked the two triangular shield projectors to form a single rectangular field. Then came the issue of trying to mount the thing to the shield. My initial attempt ended up blocking the arm’s ability to grasp it. I ended up hollowing out the backside of the shield considerably and raising the anchor points some before it all fit together. That also neatly lightened the weight considerably.
I tossed the shield to Kira.
(Valerie) Alright, try this again, if it works, we can acquire a shield generator specifically for that task.
Kira strapped on the shield to his left arm again and we resumed positions again. It was also easy to tell that the lighter weight helped him immensely in terms of blocking ability. The arm was still weak against heavy blows, but that I can work around. His skill was improving; there may be hope for him yet.
We worked our way through the basic stances and then worked on making them habitual and reflexive. There was a time or two when I had to stop and interpret how to integrate the shield into a particular stance, but we managed. Soon enough though it got to be time to wrap it up and call it a night. Restraining myself like this is difficult, and being able to let my power flow unfettered again is such a relief. I took the shield back from Kira and gave it to Thelos to let the technicians clean up what I had cobbled together.
I really wanted to just crawl into bed and call it a night, but I needed to bathe first. Going to bed dirty only added to the misery when I woke up. The hot water did wonders for the aching muscles and I nearly fell asleep in the tub right then and there. Only thing that did keep me from falling asleep was Gab’s announcement that she had procured some dessert. That was a nice reward for getting out and getting dressed for bed. After eating, sleep came easily.
That night I dreamt I was exploring an ancient underwater ruin built by a race long extinct.
Morning came too quickly. As tempting as sleeping in might be at times, it simply didn’t do well to indulge myself too much. At least I did not have any classes scheduled for today. I got cleaned up and dressed again in the clothes Gab had laid out for me. She seems to be taking to the role well. I had apparently made a good decision in keeping her even though it was spur of the moment. I grabbed some breakfast and went to weapons storage. The vault is underground the Varen Compound near the Soung residence. It also served as a shelter against major attacks. Supposedly there was a tunnel system that connected it to the space port, but I had never been to that portion.
The entrance was in the middle of one of the major parks in the Varen compound. The giant elaborate fountain was built as a ruse to make potential attackers focus on it as opposed to the real entrance. The builders had even humorously built a series of blast doors and armored corridors leading from the fountain down into the ground; there was supposed to be some really elaborate – if, perhaps, ultimately fatal – practical joke awaiting anyone who made it to the bottom. The real entrance was built into a flower bed nearby; just tip one of the flower pots and the entranceway rose up out of the ground.
Down the stairwell and into an elevator that lead me deeper underground. I really don’t know how deep this bunker is save that the Varen believe it to be secure. On the other hand, the escape tunnel to the spaceport was testiment to the fact that nothing is truly secure. I do know the elevator walls are filled with biometric scanners of all kinds to verify identity – and weapons to handle things if that identity was NOT cleared. Eventually the elevator came to a stop and opened the blast doors.
On the other side of the blast doors was a large complex. There were sleeping quarters, a kitchen, a medical bay, and lots of storage down here. Most of the storage was for food, water, power and various supplies, but there was plenty of personal storage as well. I had a small corner filled with some of my favorite toys from when I was younger. What else would you find if you poked into some of the other personal time capsules? There might be some insights there, but the only ones which the systems opened to clean out were from people who’d been confirmed dead long before. Then there was the weapons locker. Filled with everything from spare lightsabers to the rocket propelled mini-nukes, this place was built to hold off a major assault. Or at least, hold out long enough for help to arrive or to arrange an escape. Supposedly there were entrances from within the various Varen residences to here, but they were only to be used for emergencies I am told.
Last time I was here was when my Father walked me through when I was a little girl. Since then, I’ve merely designated items and equipment to be stored here in case of attack or to prevent prying eyes from seeing. One could find holocrons, momentos, weapons, experiments, and assassination tools. This is where I had stashed my stealth suit among other things.
I disliked wearing the thing. Not that I didn’t appreciate what the suit did to allow me to move unseen. it’s just that when I want to be remain unnoticed, wearing a form fitting suit that practically screams “Look at me” seems counterproductive. Luckily it fit under more normal clothing and could mimic all sorts of backgrounds with the built in active camoflague system. Supposedly the carbon nanofiber underweave helped protect against most normal attacks, but that meant squat against lightsabers or heavy weapons of any kind. On the plus side though, it did mean it could double as a harness. I locked the door – not that I expected anyone to be down here right now – and changed so the stealth suit was under my clothing.
Next I grabbed some knives, a grapnel, some smoke pellets, breathing mask, and some of the more common allergen pellets. Those should fit nicely into the belt pouches. Finally I grabbed one of the generic lightsabers. Should I lose it, it would be much harder to trace back to me than if they were to get their hands on my own. I thought about grabbing some explosive gel, but decided I was on reconnaissance, not demolitions.
Geared up, I headed back to the surface again with my equipment. The only thing different between my appearance now and earlier this morning would be the long sleeves on my arms, but the color change to match the rest of my dress helped hide that. It was still several hours until nightfall, so I needed to pass the time until then.
More lightsaber training with Kira then. Father still seemed to be busy playing politician so someone had to keep Kira busy. I found Kira in the training room practicing again. Looks like the technicians finished upgrading the shield as he was using it now against the droids. I found myself watching him from the doorway for some time. It definitely looked like he wasn’t favoring the left arm nearly as much as he was being much more aggressive in using it to ram opponents. It occurred to me while watching him to note he was getting pretty good in such a short time frame. Most latents take years to catch up this far and he had only been at this weeks. I wonder if all those holos and games Kira says he likes have subtly trained him for this. Alderaan, peaceful on the surface, virtual war zone underneath?
(Valerie) Alright, that’s enough playing around with droids. Now let’s try some Force exercises designed to enhance concentration.
First one we started with was standing on one hand while holding your body in the air. As an added incentive, I had the other floor tiles electrified to give a highly annoying shock should he fall. It was fun watching him fall the first few times, but he did get better quickly.
(Kira) Is it really necessary to electrify the floor?
(Valerie) Well, not now, but you will probably end up in a situation where your ability to hold a technique will mean the difference between life and death. The shocks help simulate that and help to motivate you. I suppose if the simulation is not to your liking, we could up the power to lethal levels to make it more realistic.
(Kira) You’re enjoying this aren’t you?
(Valerie) I must admit a certain amusement when you fall and start cursing. But I do not take pleasure from simply seeing others suffer if that is what you mean. I am not a sadist.
(Kira) Then why electrify the floor?
(Valerie) Basic educational theory of positive and negative reinforcement. Positive reinforcement encourages good behavior, like better utilizing your talents. Negative reinforcement discourages bad behavior, like losing your concentration and falling to the floor.
He fell to the floor again while trying to formulate a response. He needs to learn to ignore distractions, like me talking to him. Normally one would include a positive reinforcement to go along with the negative reinforcement, but most every way I could think of would interfere with Father’s training. Now if he would simply turn to the Dark Side, so much of this would be easier. You’re making this harder on yourself by resisting, Kira.
(Kira) So all stick and no carrot?
(Valerie) That’s right, until you manage to reach certain milestones, it’s all sticks. Although I will give you one piece of advice: focus your annoyance on the floor and not me.
(Kira) Why? Because focusing on you will not accomplish anything?
(Valerie) No, because in focusing on me, you begin to think of ways of getting back at me and that distracts from the task at hand. Focus on not letting the floor touch you.
That actually seemed to improve his concentration. After a few more attempts to distract him were brushed off, I spent my time watching his Force ability flow. He was defnitely struggling, like I did when I was a small child. Curiously, it almost seemed like he was struggling against something internally. Like something was suppressing his abilities.
No matter, whatever is going on, he seems to be making progress against it. Towards the end of the practice session he managed to stay on his hand for over an hour. After that last fall and associated swearing, I called it quits for the day and told him to get something to eat. I only grabbed something light to eat in anticipation of the night’s covert mission.
Soon enough night had fallen and people started turning in for the night or getting up to their own mischief. Hopefully the more incompetent mischief makers tonight will give me a needed distraction for the authorities. Standing outside the wall to the Medical Center, I donned my hood, tucked in my hair and activated the active camouflage. After verifying that the system seemed to be working, I leapt over the wall and into the Medical Center.