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.
Perhaps fortunately, no one had yet started to wonder what Jarik was up to (he was too gambling-obsessed to notice, but none of them were likely to take it well once they figured out what was up); they were mostly concerned with the fact that their “secret” base had just effectively announced it’s location. It would be a little while before word got around – odd events in space were all too common what with a Sith War going on – but sooner or later it would reach the ears of someone who would know what it meant.
Ben was busy musing anyway… There had been experiments in various methods of timekeeping other than simple crystal-electronic clocks – but none had proven all that much more accurate. Even a rather obscure research project investigating resonant-cavity clocks, “atomic clocks”, and pulsars hadn’t yielded much more accurate timepieces than common clocks – which weren’t all that much better than simple clockwork.
Hyperspace travel, of course, involved moving in two temporal dimensions as well as three spatial dimensions, and threw things off even more. Trip durations could vary wildly. Most were fairly predictable – but there had been occasional reports of trips that had apparently been made in close to zero time. There had never been any actual reports of trips being made in negative time – but there had been a few reports of people arriving without any memory of embarking.
It had to mean something!
Meanwhile, Kira was focused on their troubles…
Well this was certainly not good. I was hoping to stay quiet until the base’s hyperdrive was operational. Unfortunately, the crew blew our cover wide open and it’s only a matter of time before someone finds this place. My bets were on Bounty Hunters or Sith. We needed to do something to buy some time. We had spent too much time and effort trying to build this place to lose it so readily.
Ben came up with the idea of using another asteroid as a decoy to lure our pursuers into a wild bantha chase. He suggested we find another similar asteroid nearby and add some transmitters and power equipment to it. Once it was set up, we’d give it a nudge to move it along into a different orbit. I had to admit, it was certainly worth trying and we got people working on it immediately. Fortunately, the orbits of asteroids tended to be too erratic to be traced back at all easily – especially when one had been given an artificial nudge. The blasted Orbs had caused the problem, so it was only fair to use their power for part of the solution.
Meanwhile investigations of the predator we captured were ongoing but proving less and less fruitful. We just didn’t understand enough of what the Force was to say whether this thing was using odd talents or something fundamentally new. About the only real lead we had was the thing was accelerating itself in a manner similar to how the bunch on Jageroth working with the Shar Research Group did. Finding out who they were and if there were anymore people of that same group seemed like the next avenue of investigation. That would mean a return to Jageroth.
Someone suggested we look into doing something about the Sith Archives on Chyran we found. I was of the opinion that we wait and see if the Republic will follow through with our request to install shield systems first before we do anything. Worst case if the Republic doesn’t do anything, we could move the base there and make our own shield systems once the base becomes mobile. Everyone seemed satisfied with that idea.
In the meantime, that did leave us with massive power systems at our disposal and little to no power demand with the hyperdrive not yet operational. I decided to ask the crew to look into the production of antimatter as something to keep the power systems occupied while we wait. I really wanted to see how an antimatter lightsaber crystal reacted. Not that I anticipated being able to use it as a handweapon, but it might prove useful as a ship or city mounted technology. Worst case, if the antimatter proves to be nothing useful, we could lob it at our enemies for some fireworks.
There was no shortage of THEM. Ben and Jarik both had people after them, Lazlo and Alys might, Handell had annoyed any number of people in his career, the Jedi were all targets at the moment… Why was it that the person with the least enemies was the assassin droid? Was it just that he’d never left any alive behind him?
At this point I received a message from my sister Sabrina. Attached was a video of a new cartoon called “The Adventures of Kira the Kat”. Looked to be about a Sith cat, his hamster minions, and their assorted adventures. This looked surprisingly similar to the speculations the rest of the group got involved in just about a week ago. Too similar in fact, even the speculations about detonating hamster minions was spot on.
I will admit, I started getting really upset. It looked like someone in the group was taking the opportunity to make light of me and my situation behind my back on the galactic holos. Even worse it looked like they might even be profiting off it. I started giving everyone in the room accusatory glares, but no one would fess up to being guilty.
The discussion was getting pretty heated when someone suggested waiting for the credits. OK, no problem there, I can wait till the credits and hopefully whoever did this neglected to use a psuedonym.
Credits rolled by and I got my culprits, looked to be the two Jedi kids and the kid from Coruscant we picked up. I was certainly in too foul of a mood to lecture kids without blowing my stack, so the group sent Telera in my place. Trying to calm down, I saw that Sabrina had left a note that I should look into getting a cut of the take if the cartoon was anywhere near accurate.
As always, my older sister had a point. Again, I wasn’t in the mood to be doing negotiations, so Ben volunteered in my place. I ended up getting a 20% cut of the take for my trouble. Well that was some consolation I guess, that and the fact it didn’t look like the kids gave away any vital information as part of the cartoon. That was good.
I just didn’t appreciate the implication that the rest of this bunch was thinking my whole situation to be some big joke. Being hunted by the Sith and Bounty Hunters was not my idea of amusing. Nor was the time I spent at the Academy, which I have yet to tell anyone in detail about. Maybe that’s why they make light of it, as I haven’t told them the atrocities and constant fear I had to live with every day for months. The beatings and tortures were not pleasant either.
Temerin and the Jedi Kids hadn’t been meaning to be offensive; yes, Temerin had seen a chance to get some money – everybody always needed money! – but they’d just been running with the joke. Everyone – including Kira – had seemed to find it funny at the time… He was good with computers, and Engior was pretty good at art, and Veshin kept a diary and wasn’t a bad writer – and surely anything even REMOTELY positive about the adventures of the group would be better to have out than Mrs Beasley’s ranting about Kira the Sith and his allies being after her cats! Their adventures were certainly odd enough to inspire some scripts, and all it took was a little self-censorship to avoid putting in any information that would really help someone figure out what they were up to. Heck, they could even put in some bits that would mislead anyone who tried to get information out of the cartoons! And if they could ride Kira’s current infamy and Mrs Beasley into galactic syndication, they could finance everybody!
Ben didn’t have any trouble with the negotiations. The kids had been meaning to share the money anyway.
Meanwhile, at Trayus Academy on Malachor V, Pel Soung was facepalming. He had just finished reviewing the videos Valerie had sent him of a new Republic cartoon called “The Adventures of Kira the Kat”. This apprentice was certainly the biggest headache in his career and one damn frustrating person to deal with. Pel knew that if the rest of the Academy learned of this cartoon, he would never hear the end of it.
Nevertheless, it still provided valuable intelligence on Keldav’s current situation. The wayward apprentice could still be made to be useful despite his rebelliousness. Valerie was finding these cartoons a bit too amusing however.
Back on the Asrai…
We were busy deciding what to do next when Lazlo started complaining. Lazlo was again stating that he didn’t understand why we were constructing a base, and engaging in experiments with no discernable goal to him. Nor did he think it appropriate that I ask for a cut of a cartoon based on my recent struggles in life. I’ve already told him the rational for building the base, so it’s not my fault if he doesn’t pay attention. I have also made my intent clear on the nature of the experiments we are running or plan to run and the final end goal we are aiming for. Once again, not my fault if he doesn’t pay attention.
As for why I want a cut of the cartoon’s profits, I would have thought that abundantly clear. Someone is using my image and my life experiences to make money. Ergo, it is more than natural to want a cut of the profits. Lazlo merely replied that it was improper to behave this way. Whatever that means.
Choosing to ignore him, we decided it was probably best to return to Jageroth and try to find out more about that group of Force sensitives. Since that group was shown to be using a technique very similar to how our captured predator, determining whether this was just an odd Force talent or a fundamentally new thing with the Anti-Force would require talking to them.
Our arrival on Jageroth was uneventful save for the investigation going on looking for the data core we set them looking for last time. The authorities weren’t real happy with us over this, but we did inform them why it was in their best interests.
Ben went to talk with the records officials to find the documentation we needed on the Force sensitives. While he did that, I walked around the island looking for anything unusual and to just get a chance to wander around something other than a confined space. The island itself was a rather pleasant place now that the aura of despair was gone. The research facility and the surrounding infrastructure looked to be relatively intact.
I made inquiries into purchasing the island after being spurred by thoughts that came from somewhere in my mind I was unaware of. Maybe the place could be turned into a research institution again, or just a nice island home. Or maybe my own Academy once I get things figured out and start changing things. Who knows. Unfortunately, while the place was relatively cheap recently, with the ongoing Republic investigation any sales activity was frozen for the moment. Perhaps I could put in an offer at the now-frozen price and get it once it becomes available again? I made a note to check back on the place later when I had some more cash.
With my brief little tour completed, it was time to head to the mainland. I stopped by a tailor to make that set of color changing robes I’ve been speccing out for some time. For some reason I thought it would end up costing more than it did. I set the color scheme similar to the white robes I had been wearing up until now. I could see that programming different and more elaborate color patterns would take quite a bit of my time, but figured it was worth it. It would never be on par with Valerie’s stealth suit, but then this was less conspicuous.
Rather ironic in a way.
I went to see what was taking Ben and Alys so long only to find the records official was trying to get them to purchase a copy of the entire archive to search at our leisure. Big waste of time in my opinion and what use were these guys if they couldn’t find the records we asked for? It wasn’t even like we were asking for 18,000 year old documents, we only wanted something from 80 years ago.
Tired of this nonsense, I volunteered that we were trouble magnets, and the longer we were in his office, the more likely some disaster would befall the place. Now if he would be so kind as to help expedite the process so that we might be on our way, we’d appreciate it. That got him moving, even if he was grumbling about it the entire time. Soon we had the records we were looking for and thanked him for his cooperation.
The records informed us the Force sensitives were from the Arethi Order, a Jedi off-shoot that specialized in biology and medicine. They did things like adapt crops to new worlds. Well, I guess that made sense in retrospect. They were still around, and had several bases, mainly on the rim due to the fact that the Jedi tried to discourage their applicants. Unfortunately most all the bases were empty due to the ongoing Sith war. Most had taken up positions along the front to deal with the casualties of war.
Well that made life difficult. Nearest bunch to the Archegyph system was the world of Jerondal. Unfortunately, the world was now occupied by the Sith after they detected a weakness in the defenses of the place. Digging further, the apparent weakness in the defenses was caused by a virulent plague running rampant.
Jerondal was an extraordinarily rugged and mountainous world, with a very high rate of tectonic drift due to being very rich in heavy elements. It was a relatively small world with slightly higher gravity than one might expect. It produced some specialized crops that preferred cliffs and mountains and exported a variety of rare metals. All the metal deposits made instrumental surveys quite difficult, and there were plenty of caves and other underground areas that had never been explored. It had numerous small seas, which tended to be very deep. The plague itself was one of the bacta-related flesh-devouring ones, and had tended to mutate rapidly.
The Arethi had apparently gone to try to stop the plague. So in order to meet with them, we either had to go rescue them or find another bunch to talk with. Taking a vote, it was decided it was worth going to the system and having a look around the place. Worst case, we would have to leave again while being chased by a Sith fleet. No different than anything we’ve done before.
Besides, our access to stasis technology would surely help the plague situation. Stash everyone who got sick away until a cure can be found was better than death by most measures. Worst case, we could even put samples of the plague into stasis for detailed analysis.
When we arrived in the system, we found the enemy fleet strength to be about on par with the fleet that had attacked Archegyph. A strong detachment – two major ships, several smaller one, and a couple of wings of fighters – but not an overwhelmingly strong one in our opinion. I was willing to bet it could be forced to leave with some well placed damage, a rumored plague outbreak, and some Republic reinforcements. That could come later, we needed to find out the situation on the planet first.
That meant breaking through the blockading fleet though. I was fairly certain that if we could divert a portion of the fleet away from the planet, then we could easily slip past the remaining ships onto the planet surface.
I was all for luring the Sith fleet into the asteroid belt and causing an asteroid fragmentation to pummel the enemy ships into paste. Problem was, we didn’t have explosions of the size needed to pull off such a stunt. While I was lamenting the lack of antimatter when Shipwreck volunteered that he had some. I did not recall where he could have gotten any antimatter, but that didn’t concern me as much as him not informing us that he had brought some onboard.
Asking detailed questions, we learned he had gotten it from 10-CH after asking for some. Checking with 10-CH revealed that he had provided some plastech explosives in a medallion and told Shipwreck it was antimatter to keep him happy. Apparently Shipwreck has no sense of scale or practicality.
Lacking the level of explosives we needed to make my plan work, we elected to try Ben’s idea. Ben proposed we set up a decoy transmitter out in the asteroid belt and then make a run to the planet in the confusion. I had to admit it was simpler than my plan, although it left the enemy fleet intact. Oh well, can’t have everything.
Ben’s decoy did not work as planned when it shorted out and transmitted all of it’s energy in one burst. This served merely to alert the Sith fleet that something was going on instead of drawing them away from the planet. Unfortunately, at this point we were committed to the run on the planet. I took the guns while Ben used his precognition to give targeting guidance. Lazlo was running the shields, while Handell piloted like always.
I managed to hit the lead fighter with a missile, but we were hit several times in quick succession despite Lazlo managing to bounce several attacks with the shields. Thankfully the armor held, although we probably had a few leaks now. Handell faked engine trouble and plunged us into the ocean we were aiming for roughly enough to look good while I sent out a message blaming the crew for the supposed failure.
In the water, I could hear water leaking in and Furipedes working to repair the damage within the walls. Handell took us to a hiding spot to elude the incoming Sith probe droids while Shipwreck rigged a torpedo to follow our original path and explode at a significant depth to distract pursuit.
Handell brought us into a set of volcanic caves near the shoreline of a volcanic island. We took just about every combat ready member of the crew except Handell (who stayed behind to run repairs; he wasn’t about to entrust his moderately-damaged ship to a bunch of unsupervised furipedes who had left half their brain elsewhere) and disembarked. The shoreline was rocky and steep. Once we made it up the cliffs, we started to look for a town to find information from and a hideout to work from. I made sure I was dressed covering most of my exposed skin save the eyes, not only to protect against the plague, but also to ward off the sunlight.
Shipwreck had a lot of trouble with the information-gathering; it looked like there was so much exotic metal in the mountains that it SERIOUSLY disrupted sensor and broadcast communication systems; everything was routed through the Sith-controlled satellite network. Still, from what little unencrypted local stuff he could pick up, it looked like the Sith were still attempting to subdue the planet – but entirely by remotely directing a mess of droids. It looked like the Sith commander didn’t want to risk the plague.
Apparently the invasion had disrupted medical efforts, the plague was raging out of control, there had been a great many deaths, and the current strain was ESPECIALLY dangerous to humans and related subspecies. Quarantines were recommended.
Ben was rather pleased. He’d insisted on wearing his armored anti-jellyfish life support suit, and it looked like it had been a good idea after all, no matter how difficult it made climbing these bloody cliffs! Fortunately, Lazlo had been able to give him a hand, even if he (Lazlo) had neglected to bring any rope… He’d brought along some basic kit, but they were going to need some more – and a secure location – if they were going to set up any kind of treatment center.
Unfortunately, some of the locals – apparently resistors who’d fled into the forests to avoid the Sith and the plague – found us first and didn’t seem too happy to see us. Once again, the accusations flew around that we were Sith. I am getting really tired of this stigma. It took some arguing and a great deal of sarcasm before the locals were willing to believe that we were not Sith.
Ben sighed. The planet was blockaded by the Sith, and occupied by the Sith. They were obvious offworlders, and Kira was carrying a lightsaber, and he and Khadim were wearing combat armor, and they had a military-class droid along. If the locals hadn’t been suspicious, and hadn’t assumed that they were probably Sith, he’d have had to add “brain death” to the list of plague symptoms. Kira was letting his resentments get the better of him again.
Talking to the locals gave us a clearer and yet more confusing view of the plague attacking the populace. The disease only spread through prolonged direct contact – or sometimes by coughing – and yet had apparently spread across the planet in short order. It showed extreme adaptability and might be a parasitic colony organism related to bacta. It didn’t last too long outside a host though.
Now, I am no expert, but to get that kind of spread that fast usually requires something airborne. Something in the story wasn’t adding up. Well, it was possible the thing had mutated and the locals hadn’t managed to figure this out quite yet, but that implied a level of incompetence I was not comfortable with.
It was also obvious that the commander in charge hadn’t really taken stock of the situation before invading the place. He either didn’t realize the full extent of the plague or didn’t even bother to check why the defenses were so weak. It was also becoming clear that the Sith were in need of Force sensitive physicians. Were these Baramour seeking to rebuild the ranks after the purging I was part of? Or was this another sect looking to fill the role the Baramour have laid absent? I am not sure I like the full implications of what may be going on here.
Learning what we could from the locals, we decided it was probably best to head into the biggest local town – a place called Garlin, and incidently one of the areas the plague had hit first. The place was still broadcasting mechanical requests for assistance though, which didn’t sound good at all. Still, there had to be SOME survivors, and where else would we be able to learn so much about the plague? There might even still be victims in the local hospital.
According to the locals the place had a light garrison of Sith droids – half a dozen scout units and a dozen infantry droids run by some sort of command unit. Nobody’d seen any actual live Sith troops though. More promisingly, some of the mines connected to an underground river than ran underneath the place and came out of the mountains nearby. That would neatly allow us to avoid all the droids patrolling the town perimeter.
Weird. There seemed to be a heck of a lot of small resistance groups hiding in the hills and waiting for worthwhile targets. They didn’t consider droids worthwhile of course – the Sith would just make more – but they didn’t seem to be having much trouble with the plague. Was it self-inflicted quarentine?
Everyone was all for the plan except Lazlo, who had objected to our plan for reasons obscure to all of us. Lazlo decided to walk straight into town and walk past the droids. Somehow I doubted the droids would just let him walk past. Well, if he wanted to be captured, more power to him.
The rest of us found the entrance to the underground river and began our trek upstream. I had to use my lightsaber repeatedly to make handholds, footholds and places to thread rope through as we crawled our way along. It wasn’t easy as the water current fought us every step of the way. On the other hand, we were sure to evade the droids this way if it took this much effort.
Soon we came to an opening that lead upwards into what we thought was the mine shaft. Following fungus and air currents we eventually found the way out just as described by the locals. As we approached the entrance, we became aware of a Sith patrol running a search pattern looking for something. My money was on Lazlo stirring them up. We retreated further back into the mine to not draw attention to ourselves as the droids wandered by.
Lazlo had indeed stirred up the search. 10-CH had simply headed for the recharging center with Khadim, but Lazlo had been picked up by the droids, escaped from the droids, been recaptured by the droids and been taken in for interrogation – where he claimed to be a simple servant off some rich idlers waterborne yacht. He’d tried to bug the communications center, but wound up simply wrecking the system – whereupon the droids had sent for a technician via relay and gotten ready to execute him. Not too surprisingly, he ran again.
Once they had passed, we exited and looked around. Best bet we figured for setting up a base of operations was the industrial facility across the road. Entering brought us face to face with a bunch of plague victims and doctors. Looked like the place had been converted into a makeshift hospital during the invasion.
Jarik got to work looking at the victims while I went to talk to the mayor. It was quickly evident the mayor was hiding something, as he kept trying to get us to join the insurgency in the mountains rather than help with the plague. The guy was obviously more scared of us rather than the plague. Nevermind the elaborate lab setup full of experiments I didn’t understand trying to cure the damn thing. Something wasn’t adding up in this whole plague business and I smelled a rat of an opportunist politician.
Jarik smelled a rat as well… The patients did indeed have the plague; it had consumed their hair and dead skin and they showed a slime of the stuff all over – but it didn’t seem to be making further progress, there was a distinct shortage of patients other than the very old, very young, and accident victims, and they all had other problems that called for hospitalization on top of the plague. The doctor claimed to be holding it in check by palliative treatments, and that casualties – almost exclusively young adults – were immediately taken to the forest by the local worker droids and burned to prevent further contamination.
Worse, the carefully sealed samples in the lab were extremely deadly, but the curative experiments were extremely methodical and didn’t show all that much success beyond the “promising” stage – nevertheless, the locals seemed to have a near-100% effective palliative, but no cure. The stuff seemed to prefer soft tissues, but wasn’t spreading through the patients bodies.
OK, the setup was good enough to fool anyone but an expert – but, fortunately, he was an expert, and he was on the spot, and he was looking at the patients and the data, and the entire thing smelled. How could the samples in the lab be the same organism that was all over the patients? It was FAR too deadly.
Alys had been quietly looking about and talking to people. At least two-thirds of the towns 12,000 or so people were gone – and she didn’t think it was into graves. It looked like a lot of them had fled into the forest; there was a distinct lack of weapons, camping supplies, and other relevant goods. Well, that was one way to improvise a quarantine.
Shipwreck agreed with Jarik: the plague infecting the people lying on the floor was not the same as the plague in the massive biocontainment cell that experiments were being run on. The others had their own theories, but I was seeing a politician using a deadly disease to his own advantage and neatly cutting himself off from any Republic aid. Stupid bastards more worried about their own hide than doing what needs to be done.
At the very least, it looks like the Arethi managed to get the plague under control if not eliminated. That still left the fleet in orbit to take care of. Best bet I had was to sneak aboard one of the bigger ships, cause as much damage as we could, free the Arethi, and then call for Republic reinforcements. Trick got to be how do we sneak aboard?
Ben had reached a slightly different conclusion: the locals had indeed been dealing with a plague – but the Arethi had found a cure. Currently some loosely-related or weakened strain was being used as a tool to allow the locals to shut down production, keep the Sith in orbit, and evacuate the towns into those cave-rich and sensor-confusing hills. The Sith probably had caught some of the Arethi, but the locals were hiding the rest. People who were reported to have died were simply being smuggled out of town.
The sound of blasterfire outside was the tip I needed. Peering out a cracked door, I could see Lazlo running from a large patrol of droids. Looked like he was missing fur even. I couldn’t help readily without compromising the makeshift hospital, so I slipped out behind the droids and bided my time. Eventually the group was able to divert the droids away from Lazlo and we were able to meet up with him again. I refrained from an “I told you so” since that would prove unproductive.
It did turn out though that Lazlo managed to accidently arrange the very thing I needed to sneak aboard the ship. Apparently he had destroyed the main communications device with the ships in orbit and so a repair technician was now enroute to effect repairs. Ambushing him should be a simple matter after we take out the droids. Once we have his shuttle, we can return to the ships in orbit and proceed with the next step.
Lazlo, meanwhile, had briefly broken contact with he pursuing droids – albeit not before eating a fair amount of blaster fire – and had escaped into the vehicle park. He’d tried to send a couple of them on autopilot to crash into the town hall where the droid communications center was without much success – but rode another out of town. Before bailing out and sneaking back, a move made possible thanks to Ben’s sending another “escape vehicle” zooming off towards the horizon.
Time to rescue some people while raising as much hell as possible.