As usual, this is Kira’s players log with a lot of additional material edited in so that it can serve as a general session log as well.
With two of the Orbs in our possession, it was time to figure out how to get them to the base. It suddenly occurred to me that we had a dilemma, we didn’t have a hyperdrive capable of transporting them, nor could we bring the base to here. These things never really come up in the holos. Ben wasn’t much help in this matter either. Too busy planning his next experiment.
While pondering that, someone also brought up another issue: our base crew was composed of former Sith – well, OK, soldiers and technicians from the Sith side of Sith War several millennia past – and technicians from Alderaan. Well and the Furipedes, but that was another matter entirely. Those groups have not historically gotten along and now we were about to add a massive pile of weapons to the mix. I had to admit that was a point, but I felt that the people we had rescued from stasis had seemed more reasonable than that. Plus the Alderaan technicians came from a world that preached tolerance, they shouldn’t be stirring anything up too badly either.
Still it isn’t like this is the first organization to have personality conflicts in the team. This is what managers and human resources specialists do for a living. Why not just hire someone to deal with the potential conflicts? Alys took to the suggestion with much enthusiasm and proceeded to take off to begin the hunt for a manager.
While she went recruiting, I turned my attention back to the original problem of moving the Orbs to the base. I figured that would end up easier than moving the base first, but I could be wrong. I am not an engineer. Ben was an engineer but wasn’t proving very helpful. On the other hand, the Furipedes were also expert technicians and engineers. I decided to consult with them.
The Furipedes conferred for a while (I have no other words to describe whatever it is they do) before suggesting dumping most of the neutronium into the sun so that the Orbs became light enough to transport. If we kept a few tons of neutronium, it would be a simple matter to refuel the systems once we arrive in the Archegyph system. This is why it pays to have competent crew to support me. I can’t be an expert on everything.
We dumped most of the neutronium into the sun after verifying that we wouldn’t accelerate the nova schedule any doing that. Then it was a simple matter to load up the Orbs and prepare to head for the Archegyph system. Watching Republic Star Destroyers just scoop the remaining Orbs out of orbit made me a bit envious, but nothing I can do about it now.
At the Archegyph system we met back up with Alys. She had recruited a manager type to head up the facility. It also became apparent that Alys “neglected” to inform the guy regarding the exact nature of the job ahead of him. Sigh that wasn’t particularly nice, but since the guy did sign up without asking the right questions, I suppose he does somewhat deserve it. Maybe next time he will learn to ask for more detail about mysterious construction projects out on the rim before agreeing to work.
Looking at the news since we were somewhat back in civilization there were several news items relevant to us at least in part. More Sith fleets probing at the border regions. Probably looking for a weakness in the lines. The fleet stationed around Alderaan wasn’t helping matters on that front, but until it could be verified that the superweapon Shipwreck found was either gone or destroyed nothing much could be done about it. The Republic fleet had better resources for investigating that sort of thing than we did.
Someone was also assassinating Republic officials in rather blatant and showy displays. Attacking in broad daylight against targets that while vulnerable to attack, would be nigh impossible to escape from afterwards. The newscasters were speculating wildly about changelings, invisibility, and teleportation. OK, Changelings existed – but personally I suspected Valerie or someone in the same class as her. That stealth suit of hers was certainly annoying, but I am not sure it was up to the invisibility claims the media was spouting. Last I checked, Valerie couldn’t teleport either. Trying to intervene there was a lost cause. I am not up to taking Valerie head on even with support and I could just see asking some politician to accept a group of trouble magnets as bodyguards anyway.
Rumors of Sith superweapons were circulating as news, although I don’t understand why. It’s like announcing the Sith have turned to the Dark Side of the Force. Someone has put a substantial bounty on my head now, but did so anonymously. Chief suspects in my mind are the Soungs and De’arc. I suppose any survivors of the Sith battlefleet we ran off might hold a grudge against me too. Why not just come out and state who you are if you want me so badly?
One of the talk show holos wanted me to appear on their show. I suspected I would be paired against Mrs Beasley in a major “discussion” of my alleged Sith activities. Maybe this is why someone put such a large bounty on my head, with me quickly becoming the most famous and most silly Sith in the galaxy. I could certainly see some Sith Lord who takes himself a little too seriously be equally seriously offended by my reputation and wanting me eliminated.
Unidentified ships were prowling around the Archegyph system. Not to be unexpected. At least a few had to be Sith or Bounty Hunters looking for my ass with that bounty on it. Luckily picking one asteroid out of many was nigh impossible without a lot of time and effort. Hopefully we can get the hyperdrive operational before they find us.
Our escaped bioweapon was stirring up more trouble, knocking over a small jedi institution – a testing outpost with an elderly Jedi or two and a bunch of parents and kids – and making off with a bunch of kids before disappearing again. Vaguely our fault, but I warned the Republic to shoot the shuttle down in the first place. Besides, I need to improve my skills considerably before I can hope to take something like that on.
Final item on the list that had any interest to me was the Anjarkori Survey Society reporting another failure in their extra-galactic surveys. That sort of project always caught my interest vaguely.
Alys had quite a few social invitations, some to planets she’d only vaguely heard of – industrial centers and the like. She really couldn’t decide what was up with that. Kidnappers? Her sudden social notoriety? People wanting to meet the infamous Kira and his trouble magnets? Well, she didn’t have time at the moment anyway…
Shipwreck was now complaining that he wasn’t getting paid. I don’t remember offering to pay him in the first place. I was about to offer to dump him back on Archegyph where we found him when a thought occurred to me. Money was always useful, if a little hard to get from time to time. The Anjarkori Survey Society might be real interested in being able to meet or study what is probably an extragalactic species. They might even be interested enough to pay for the chance.
Getting the idea across to the Furipedes was a real pain. I am really going to have to figure out how to communicate with these things better. Eventually they seemed to agree with the idea as did the rest of our group. A quick hop over to the Drakuru system on the very edge of the galaxy brought us over to the local society chapter.
Shipwreck, for reasons I still do not understand, elected to use his fake ID while on the planet. Since it would be really stupid of us to mix and match real ID’s and fake ID’s, that meant the rest of us had to use our fake ID’s as well. So I began the melanin treatments and dyed my hair red as per the ID. Seeing myself in the mirror was a shock, but not nearly as much as when I turned coal black. Seeing red hair in the mirror had me thinking of the Academy and Valerie for a moment before I stopped myself and went to finish dressing.
The Drakuru system was a bit of a optimist’s dream if I ever saw one. A very small red star with a very darkly vegetated planet in orbit. Great place if you wanted to be eating black vegetables for the next hundred billion years or so, not so much if you want any color to your life. Actually meeting somebody was a lot more trouble than I anticipated. Apparently a lot of people tried to scam the group all the time.
Finally we met someone and presented the Furipede we brought from the ship. At first the guy was not impressed, but once we pointed out that medical and language skills did not help with the creatures did he finally come around. Plus there was the whole alien silicon biochemistry thing going on. He and Jarik got into a long technical discussion for several hours that put me to sleep more than once.
I did get into the discussions about the failures and successes involved in extra-galactic journeys. The results weren’t encouraging at all. Latest failure they lost contact with eight weeks ago. The Society was looking for someone to go on a search and rescue mission and was willing to pay quite a bit of money for the job. Sadly, I wasn’t liking the odds at the moment and needed to find a way to control my powers before running off on some grand adventure. I suppose it might be a nice escape idea if my Sith pursuit gets a little too close.
I doubt even Valerie would follow me to another galaxy.
Ben wondered if some minimal galactic size was necessary to maintain intelligence. They were mostly just trying to probe the small satellite galaxies around theirs. Had they tried just sending droids? Was there a relationship with the red shift or with the way the galaxy only supported carbon-based life? But the Furripedes seemed to be doing just fine…
That got us a tidy reward with a promise to pay us more should our claim turn out to be genuine. After splitting it evenly, that ended up with an additional two thousand credits to my name. It’s nice to have some money available in case of disasters. Might be time to get that set of robes I’ve been speccing out for a while now. Now I just need to find a quality tailor to make it.
Back in Archegyph we found our base in a panic and stirring up all sorts of trouble around the system. Turns out the numbskulls didn’t think to purge the computer programs before trying to restart the systems to pull the technical schematics. The Orbs then proceeded to absorb a chunk of the asteroid to make more neutronium, since their fuel reserves were extremely low.
The Archegyph authorities couldn’t help but pick up the radiation burst from that. Ships were on the way from all over the system. Well damn, looks like our cover was blown. We finally managed to calm the local authorities down after explaining it as a reactor leak. That wasn’t even a lie necessarily, as the neutronium core did leak a small percentage of the energy it just absorbed.
We lectured the crew that proper salvaging procedure includes purging the computers of any programs before integrating it into existing systems. The incredulous looks I got were really frustrating. Probably half the salvage to be had must be former Sith equipment people! Republic salvage usually was known and recovered quickly as the Republic knew where it was.
I considered our options for evading Sith and Bounty Hunters while Ben worked on constructing giant rodent balls. As much as I hate to say it, our best plan in the case of being discovered was to abandon the base. If we could remain undetected long enough to get the base’s hyperdrive working then we had a chance of escaping with everything. Sadly, the crew just blew our chances of that spectacularly.
Ben completed his mad scientist rodent balls and we headed off to Kahranoth to bag ourselves a predator. Ben started mumbling about the clocks being off again after the jump. I asked if something was wrong and was told it’s supposed to do that. I looked at Alys for an explanation to that one and all I got was a shrug. Damned if I know why he feels the need to troubleshoot something that is working the way it’s supposed to.
Ben sighed; nobody appreciated his work properly. The “Rodent Balls” (perhaps it would help if he named things before other people stuck labels on them?) were works of art! Eight inches of transparisteel armor, internal air system, repulsorlifts, drives, and stabilizers, control interface, stasis-field projectors, power supply, small tractor beams, sampling hatch, reinforced entry hatch, decontamination provisions, automatic lift-and-scape escape system if the operator or operators were to be incapacitated, external environment sensors, communication systems, internal cargo compartments, cushioned bucket seats, provision for a small lab…
OK, maybe they were a bit obsessively armored, but they were still pretty bloody good!
Besides, the damned clocks bothered him. Yes, there was always a bit of temporal drift during any hyperspace trip – it was part of the way that it moved you partially into one of hyperspace’s temporal dimensions and the fact that the motion of the galaxy meant that the route varied with each trip – but he was getting the oddest feeling that there was something else involved, and he’d been BRED for his perceptions of hyperspace… He could make all kinds of high-precision instruments, maybe there was a better way to make clocks? He’d have to look into it…
Kahranoth itself was a lively place. Practically a forest world, it teemed with as much life force as a city world like Coruscant. Much better to live on though as there isn’t all that extra psychic noise filling the Force with so much noise. There was a serene aspect to it all, although I knew the reason it was uninhabited was anything but serene.
Kahranoth was had a radius of about five and a half thousand miles, but was somewhat poor in the heavy elements, giving it a surface gravity of .93 standard gravities. It was less water-rich than the average world too; even though it had been some time since it’s last major period of mountain-building, it was mostly swamps and jungles, covering plains and low rolling hills rather than a world of mighty – if shallow – seas. There were, however, a lot of lakes – ok, some a hundred miles across, but still lakes. It supported an EXTREMELY vigorous ecosystem. About the only clear patches were the sites of recent fires and over the scattering of volcanoes – which were also some of the few actual mountain peaks the place offered.
Looking for a place to land we saw places in the forest, the plains and over a volcano. Deciding it was more prudent to be safe than sorry, we opted to hover over the volcano and unloaded one of the rodent balls. Alys and shipwreck decided to be the first volunteers for this operation and climbed into the ball. We watched as best we could with the support droids and from our vantage point on top of the volcano.
Alys and Shipwreck had an interesting cruise around; a fairly typical jungle world in a lot of ways, no doubt containing the usual assortment of diseases, toxins, noxious wildlife, and deadly plants. Jungles were a constant struggle after all. Alys thought she caught a glimpse of something – but paralysis made it awfully hard to get a good look. Still, they made it back to the Ship after the ball shot up high enough to break contact, despite Shipwrecks reckless driving.
We eventually lost contact with them when suddenly the ball leaped into the air and hovered there. Handell took us to pick them up and we debriefed a bit. They never saw the creature but wound up paralyzed suddenly. The ball’s safeties kicked in at that point and launched the ball into the air like we saw.
Jarik checked Alys and Shipwreck over before reporting that the paralysis appeared to be caused by a damping of all electromagnetic activity in their nervous systems. Chemically everything seemed to work fine though. Didn’t appear to be any long term consequences for it all though. Strange, this is unlike any Force power I’ve heard of and yet it’s unlike what I expected from an Anti-Force power.
Jarik outfitted Shipwreck and Alys with all sorts of sensors so he could monitor their vital signs this time around. After Jarik gave the thumbs up, Shipwreck and Alys climbed back into the ball to go hunting again. I offered to start spreading rumors of the situation in an attempt to break the tension to mild effect.
Next thing we heard was lots of yelling and banging on the communications channel. Handell took us in pursuit again while Jarik, Ben and I took to the guns. Hopefully the ball would protect them from the stun blasts, but if not, it would still stop the predators from attacking. That is the theory anyway.
I was pleased to learn I could fire massive weapons at a forest without heed so long as they were set to stun. I idly toyed with the idea of purchasing stun bombs to drop on places that really annoy me. I could start a new faction: the Nerf Sith.
Out in the forest, the cruise had been going along just fine – when the “Rodent Balls” (since Ben still hadn’t named the things) power systems went offline. The drives, sensors, and everything else shut down -and the ball dropped fifteen feet to the forest floor. One of the local predators strolled out and started ripping it’s way in. Banging on the controls did not help…
The Chasindoth were long creatures with five sets of limbs – three sets of legs and two sets of frontal claws – heavy scaly armor, massive jaws, and apparently-immense strength and durability. With the power systems down, they couldn’t use the stasis-field projectors, and the way it was casually gouging it’s way through the armor was NOT reassuring.
Shipwreck somehow got the ball rolling (burning a force point to get a check of 60 – enough to leave Alys pinned to the wall by centrifugal force) and took off down the slope, bouncing from tree to tree while accelerating – and being subjected to random bursts of thrust as the power systems flicked on and off again at random while the ball rolled. The Chasindoth kept pace for awhile, but gave up when the ball erupted from the forest and went over a small cliff or bluff with a river at it’s foot.
Fortunately, Shipwreck managed to short the power supply through the drive system at the right moment, and managed to both slow the fall and direct the ball into the river, rather than onto the rocks. He was gravely injured in the impact anyway, but Alys pulled through all right – and with the radio systems working again, Jarik managed to talk her through getting Shipwreck stabilized before she started in on patching the leaks. It was a good thing that the creature hadn’t had just a few seconds longer; it would have been inside with them.
We found Alys and Shipwreck rolling downhill with some sort of horror holo reject in close pursuit. We started laying suppression fire as the ball rolled over a cliff, fell into a river, went over a waterfall, and then through some rapids before starting a forth-mile drift down to one of the large lakes… Sadly, we managed to shoot everything but the predator chasing them, but luckily it gave up at the cliff and let the ball float away. At least the strafing kept the local predators away from it while we waited for it to get safely out on the lake and out of range of the local predators before we tried to pick it up.
After the ball had a brief run-in with a fish a lot bigger than it had any right to be living in a lake that size, we fished it out of the water with a long diamond cable sent down with a droid. The ball had severe gash marks where claws had tried to rip through it. Shipwreck was needing medical attention yet again after being splatted and used as a cushion by Alys, so Jarik put him back into the bacta tank. Ben listened to the tale of adventure before cooking up a new ball design.
Alys had been mildly amused by the predator-fish; they’d woken it up by scraping over it, and it was obviously nocturnal from the size of the eyes – so she’d driven it off with the laser pointer from her presentation kit. She made a note to bring a weapons-class laser next time. They weren’t as effective a personal weapon as a blaster, but she could fire one through the armor without too much trouble, even if there would be enough backscatter to call for eye protection.
Handell, meanwhile, had taken the ship to the far side of the planet’s moon – apparently on the theory that, if the creatures could shut down power systems, he didn’t want to be anywhere in the planets gravity well if he could avoid it, and certainly not over an active volcano! I had to admit that seemed a little extreme, but who was I to say what sort of range those creatures had? The fact that the creature was able to do so much damage to the ball in such a short amount of time was not reassuring either.
I had to admit, the speed and strength demonstrated was profound, and would be well worth it to learn how it’s done even if this turns out to not be Anti-Force related.
While Ben was redesigning his rodent balls, and Shipwreck marinated in bacta, we rigged up a telescope and watched the predators hunt some of the native wildlife from low orbit to get an idea how they operated and how the local stuff fended them off. It looked like the things were usually ambush-predators, they paralyzed a straggler or beast that had wandered off and ate it at leisure. The herbivores defended themselves with herd tactics, trampling, and being too big to eat. Retrieving the corpses of a pair of predator and prey that inadvertently killed each other was also revealing on how the prey evaded the predators. Having multiple brains seemed to be the key to managing the trick. Well not that this will help us unless Jarik has talents I really would rather not know about. It did seem to give Ben some ideas though; something about triplicate power systems and one-way mirror coatings. They could cruise around until one power system went down, stop, put whatever came out in partial stasis, and launch a stasis-field net at it.
Shipwreck got out of medical around the same time Ben finished his modifications to the ball. He and Alys crowded back into the modified ball for a third attempt. This time we saw the ball leap into low orbit with one of the predators along for the ride. From the look of things Alys was dying but in stasis while Shipwreck was busily trying to stay alive. After stunning the hell out of it with the ship’s blasters, we retrieved the creature and the ball.
This time Alys and Shipwreck had found a pair of the creatures – but they apparently found the half-mirrors confusing; the power systems and their own nervous systems were being disrupted erratically, rather than being fully paralyzed. Alys got one partially into stasis, but the other one was digging through the hull again. In the ensuing chaos, Alys caught a horrific blow to the head (and had to be put into stasis) while the ball – and one partially-in-stasis predator with it’s claws stuck in the hull – headed for high altitude. Handell made sure it was out with the ships blasters set to stun again…
Since Alys was in stasis, our first priority was to make sure the creature did not wake up and eat us all. Stunning it repeatedly while stuffing it into stasis took care of that matter. Jarik whipped up a tranquilizer and sedated the creature as well.
Once that thing was secure, Jarik turned his attention towards Alys. Luckily stasis gave him all the time in the world to repair the damage done to her head. Especially nice was that she didn’t come out as a Sith. After Shipwreck was done she still held her head gingerly. I imagine that must have been quite the shock. Course this is the woman that nearly had her leg torn off and was wanting to know when she could hunt again.
Back at the base, we stuffed the predator into a private, armored, dome separated from the rest of the base. It was kept sedated and hooked up to life support so that we could study it with minimal issue. Ben rigged it up so that escape would dump it into the neutronium power supply to become more fuel.
The group started analyzing it while I sat back and watched in the back. It was quite obvious up close that the creature didn’t have the physical build to achieve the strength and speed displayed during the encounters we had with it. I noticed that Ben’s probing at it with the Force was draining him somehow. I got Ben to stop and rest while Jarik checked on him.
After Jarik declared Ben healthy but drained we took stock of the situation. It was decided I would use the Force to sense at the predator while everyone monitored my vital signs for issues.
It was obvious the creature was not enhancing it’s speed the way Jedi and Sith do. Jedi and Sith enhance the body while using precognition to keep up in the mind with the speed increase. This thing was detaching itself from the Force and altering it’s personal rate of time flow. In fact, this was immensely similar to how the people at the Shar Research Group managed their accident.
The strength and regenerative powers seemed to come from the absorption of vital energies from the environment around it. Well that is certainly different from anything I have seen or heard of save for the few stories of the Anti-Force I heard from the Sith Archive. Between the speed enhancement and the regenerative power, the apparent age of the creature was rather messed up. It was a lot younger than it looked for amount of wear and tear it had seen. Jarik kept rambling on about seasonaly scale growth patterns (showing age 14), bone structure (which indicated mid-20’s), organ wear and aging (which showed past genetic lifespan of 40, and only being kept going by it’s regenerative powers), ganglion nexi swellings along the spinal cord for each set of limbs, and a lot of other biological details. Is this kind of speciality-obsession normal for trouble magnets? Did any of that even matter?
The electromagnetic dampening ability was hard to explain. I’ve have not seen or heard anything remotely like that in my travels. Is it possible that what is really happening is the Force ghost is being paralyzed or suppressed? No way to tell without letting it wake up though and I am not keen to do that.
Jarik got ready to publish yet another paper under his false ID regarding this creature. Ben and I started thinking of experiments we wanted to pursue while we waited for the hyperdrive to finish construction. I wanted to know how an antimatter crystal responded to photon projections. Ben was more interested in how the Force was linked to hyperspace, and why this creature seemed to be disconnected from hyperspace. Besides, he had a log on hypertravel and clocks to set up.
I also want to know more about that Shar Research Group who had people able to mimic the same talent that allows this predator we caught to accelerate. As I recall, that bunch was even unaffiliated with the Jedi in any fashion.
Besides I have the feeling we are going to be getting company sooner rather than later. Best to have some tricks up my sleeve when that time comes. Maybe a variable star grapnel and some color changing robes?
Jarik spent some time on the subspace network… As an obsessive gambler, he saw some possibilities for novelty ball-racing on hostile worlds. OK, so the operators would have to kidnap people and force them to compete in the high-casualty races, but that was nothing new. He’d bet on a lot of situations like that… He spent some time (and tapped into the force) to set up the legal (public, in cooperation with Alys) and illegal (private for gambling) versions with his various contacts. It made him feel a trifle strange somehow, but that was probably just the excitement of getting in on the ground floor of a new game! After all, “visit wild planet, have trouble with horrific local life form” was the basic plot for half the horror-entertainment productions of the galaxy!
Alys sent some reassuring messages home, but decided to refrain from getting too graphic – or from sending a picture of a horrific monster clawing it’s way into a vehicle with a “wish you were here!” message to her annoying suitor.