Meanwhile, Ben and Lazlo had been ushered right past all the formalities and had been taken aboard the Super Star Destroyer – with had it’s own small Sith Academy to go with the colonization setup – for evaluation. They were startled to find that the staff was quite respectful, very obliging, and inclined to try to explain to Lazlo that he was no longer a slave…
They probably shouldn’t have been. The staff wasn’t stupid – and if these two did become full-fledged Sith, it would have been most unwise to have offended them early on.
Lazlo wasn’t having any – just as he’d objected to the Republic’s attempts at the same general speech. That actually made him MORE of a topic of interest; installing compulsions like that was supposed to be impossible – and if someone had found a way to do it, it would be quite a breakthrough in the field (installing fairly strong instincts is possible, but rigid rules like Lazlo is operating under require cooperation at some level – which is being supplied because the player feels that it fits the character conception). That report started up the chain of command pretty quickly.
Ben was finding that basic force-use drills and simple training exercises were pretty much the same for both the Sith and Jedi. Hr was beginning to wonder just where the difference slay – and how much of it was simply viewpoint. Lazlo had described his familiarity with the Sith Pyramid Scheme technique – and this group had been sure that something had to be wrong with it without having watched some one tty to use it and explode. There was of course – no one could handle the massed power of a world without burning out – but most Sith didn’t recognize that before seeing it happen… They’d even explained Lazlo! They knew that there were plenty of untrained force-sensitives with weird limitations – even if they were all psychologically based. They even looked down on the “Holosith”!
Lazlo found some formal training hints quite helpful… He could feel his shamanic powers expanding as he experimented! (And the player took the chance of having an instructor to spend a few experience points).
Alys got back to the Asrai – where Handell had been seriously considering just taking off, since it sounded like most of his companions had just crossed over to the Dark Side – and managed to persuade him that it was mostly a ruse; they’d needed to get SOMEONE into the ranks of the Sith so as to steal those codes – and she’d just seized the chance that came up.
At least she was hoping that was what she’d done. She still wasn’t sure what had come over her – unless the Sith had been using his powers to lean on her mind a bit.
And back with Kira…
I awoke from stasis to find myself looking at Alys and the others. Apparently we had made it through Sith customs without issue. Taking my lightsaber back from 10CH, I took stock of the situation.
It wasn’t easy to tell that we were back in the Sith Enclave. It wasn’t like there were signs posted or anything. Well, maybe there were signs at customs, but I obviously didn’t see them. The Enclave itself was of modest size in the grand scheme of things. That was good and bad. Good in that it limited the number of Sith we could run into, and bad because it meant we could stand out fairly quickly if we aren’t careful.
Ben and Lazlo were both still with the Sith as best as we could tell. I still wasn’t happy about how enthused either of them seemed with the whole idea from what few messages we got from Ben. Why does every other member of the party wish to flirt with the Dark Side so badly? Hell, even Alys isn’t above selling annoying party members at this point. Sigh, best to shove such thoughts aside as long as these people are useful. It’s not like I don’t have a long list of nutjob volunteers to replace the fallen anyway.
We came here looking for where the Sith codes might be held or generated so that we could break the blockade of Jerondal. Watching port traffic was getting us nowhere fast on that goal. I am not sure what I was expecting save some clue or lead that might show us where to go next. I supposed it was possible that we might hack the port computer system and extract the codes, but this was a major military facility and none of us had the skill to break Sith encryptions or else we wouldn’t be here.
Shipwreck pulled out his sensor pack and started analyzing electronic traffic patterns. While there was a modest amount of traffic going to the rest of the Enclave and back, it just didn’t look to Shipwreck to be traffic meant to be carrying highly sensitive codes. What traffic there was like that was heading to orbit towards a particular ship up there. A super star destroyer command ship it looked like.
How in the galaxy did he miss that on our way in? Or did it just arrive? I didn’t like the timing of it all if that was the case. I doubt the Sith would send something like that to capture me, but they might if they suspected us to be here and up to no good.
To be fair, Shipwreck had been scanning the entire three-star system, and had picked up hundreds of space stations, thousands of major industrial installations, and tens of thousands of ships. One of them was a bit bigger than the rest and parked, so it had wound up being listed under “space stations”. Not such a big deal.
He couldn’t really tell much about the content of encrypted traffic either – but the Super Star Destroyer was a – or THE – central node in the enclave system. All he had to do was look at the transmission patterns and some heading information.
We were pushing our luck to sneak aboard a regular star destroyer and steal it back to Republic space before being overwhelmed by the crew. That same sort of stunt wasn’t going to work twice in a row. Especially not with the same faction as last time when they nearly caught on to us before we pressed the button and escaped. Sneaking aboard, stealing the codes, and getting off again was going to be nigh impossible.
Remotely hacking a super star destroyer was a similar pipe dream. A small enclave we had a better chance of knocking off than a major command ship. Completely at a loss as how to proceed, I consulted with the others only to get similar responses. About the only idea anyone had was Shipwreck wanting to unleash a horrific plague upon the ship, killing the crew and allowing us to steal the ship.
I was not about to allow anyone to create a plague like that, let alone use one myself. Something like that was bound to backfire in dramatic fashion and kill countless innocent lives. Wait a moment, just how many people crew one of those ships anyway? The answer of three hundred thousand definitely shot down any delusions we might have had on taking over such a vessel.
To make matters worse, Shipwreck determined that command ship was led by Admiral Vera Morrowain (through asking, not through instrumentation). Well that cemented this bunch as the same faction Valerie was in, and Morrowain would probably recognize me quickly. Anyone Valerie was willing to pay deference to was bad news for me.
Shipwreck also determined that the command ship was carrying a payload of colonists and supplies. Colonists?! Why in the galaxy would the Sith be bothering with colonists? They don’t think that far ahead as a rule. Discretely asking around did tell us that the Sith were trying to set up fall back worlds once they began to lose the war with the Republic. Alright, that was even stranger. They willingly acknowledge that the Republic is likely to win this war? Most Sith would sooner castrate themselves with steel wool than admit defeat or that their cause was lost. For an entire faction to acknowledge this and make contingency plans while the war was still going on flew in the face of most everything I thought I knew.
The icing on the cake was the discovery that these Sith were making plans to evacuate the civilians first. Did we end up back in Republic space by accident or something? Or are Alys and the others pulling some giant prank on me? What Sith evacuates civilians ahead of themselves?
Handell thought that one was obvious enough; most of the Sith would have personal transports available – but they’d still need staff, food, and support personnel if they fled, ergo, prepare to take a support base along. Still pretty pragmatic and sensible for Sith, but understandable.
So what in the galaxy do we do? I was about to say the mission was a lost cause and announce aborting the operation when Alys mentioned that Ben and Lazlo were apparently onboard the command ship. I briefly wondered about the odds of that when I eventually determined that the best Sith to be evaluating new prospects were also the ones most likely to be aboard a command ship.
Alright, that changed the dynamics of the situation significantly. We just had to buy Ben and Lazlo enough time and distraction to allow them to steal the codes and get off the command ship. That was conceivably doable.
Right about that time I got a death threat from Ben. At least, that was how it read. He was wanting to know exactly how I wished to die so that he could arrange it for me now that he was a Sith. Alys thought it was coded to ask how we planned to provide a distraction so that Ben knew when to act. I wasn’t so sure, this was the man that still doodled superweapons after all.
Alright, assuming it was a coded message asking for a distraction, then how do we provide one? How do we distract an entire Sith enclave and fleet? That sick feeling in my stomache came as I realized we only really had one option. There was only one thing we had with us that could draw their attention and hold it for any length of time.
I could announce my presence, engage in impressive dramatics, and then lead the Sith on an explosive chase through the Enclave and even the Hutt or Corellian portions of the system. This would almost certainly result in my capture and/or death at the end of it all, but it was either that or walk away while possibly leaving Ben and Lazlo to the Sith. I needed Ben’s expertise and besides, I wasn’t about to leave a superweapon expert in Sith hands.
About the only way I could conceivably survive this though was if I mastered that super acceleration technique. That would definitely keep the Sith occupied and keep my ass alive. Problem is, I don’t know that technique. Well, I know more or less how it was done. I also know how to fix it too at the cost of a hyperdrive.
I could experiment here, or we could head back to the base and try it there where we had more resources and fewer enemies. Discussion eventually decided that we would head back to base and try it there. On that note I sent a reply back to Ben:
“I anticipate I will probably go down in a fiery explosion that will leave me running around with the fires of Hell in the next few weeks.”
Hopefully that was what he was looking for and not some method by which I wished to die. On the other hand, if he was looking to kill me, I know where to find jellyfish, treesap, and hyperdrives. This is Ben after all and it isn’t like we don’t know how to circumvent that precognition of his.
We were able to get back to the freighter Ranharik without any issue and leave port. The trip to Jerondal was uneventful save the anxiety I was feeling about the upcoming experiment. I was hoping to have more time learning what might go wrong and how to better control it before attempting this. Oh well, I was going to need some sort of a leg up on Valerie should I run across her again, and running around an enclave of her faction was asking for it anyway.
We arrived at the Jerondal system to find a Republic fleet had also arrived to assist the base with the blockade against freighters. The Republic wasn’t especially happy with us hauling vital war materials to the Sith, but were as much at a loss how else we could enter the shipyard system otherwise as we were.
The plating of the base and the Asrai with the stealth material was going smoothly. Given some more time, we could probably finish that and keep ourselves hidden from most pursuit. I have a sneaking suspicion the heat on me is going to pick up soon anyway if this stunt works.
On the base we set up our initial experiment. The Arethi, Telera, and the others were going to provide support while I ran the experiment. Alys volunteered to also be a lab rat in this with me. I followed the test procedure that we were able to recover as best I could using the power available to me.
First experiment failed without any detectable result whatsoever. Stepping back for a moment and consulting with Telera and the Arethi, we made some minor modifications to what I was doing and tried again. I could definitely tell I was getting a bit better at manipulating whatever it was I was manipulating, but that was of small comfort given the inherent danger involved. It waS also clear that manipulating this with the Force was an immense pain.
Second attempt did get a result, just not the one I intended. Alys suddenly “blinked” and was replaced with another Alys dressed in different clothing and looking very confused. Great we just managed to duplicate the refrigerator Sith technique. Asking this new Alys if she was a Sith was an exercise in trying to lighten the situation considering the massive screw up I just committed.
“Oh hey, Mr Nere. I hate to tell you this, but I lost your daughter in an arcane Force experiment, but I did manage to get another one almost identical!”
Oh yeah, that would go over well. Alys was wanting to know who I was, but just seemed to be happy to be interacting with people again. What little we could gather was Ben or someone like Ben was systematically destroying all of creation. Not really keen on giving away my identity without knowing more about who my alternate self was like, it was eventually agreed that I would be called “Kat”. There are days I really hate the direction my life has taken.
There was much explaining and theorizing. Sadly we really needed Ben in order to make any headway on understanding what we were doing. The new Alys volunteered to be part of another experiment which really didn’t surprise me in the slightest. This girl seriously needs to learn to stop trusting people at their word. Especially people engaging in strange experiments that teleported you across dimensions against your will.
We tried again. Third experiment did not swap Alys’s back like I had anticipated, but left us with the second Alys hyperaccelerated. Ok, that got us in the right ballpark for fixing our first problem, without doing a damned thing regarding our second problem. We blew out the Asrai’s hyperdrive restoring this second Alys to normal and then confirmed we could recreate the hyperacceleration and blow out hyperdrives. Well, while this was a success by most any measure, it really needed to be me hyperaccelerated if baiting the Sith was going to work at all.
Besides, we really needed to figure out how to bring our Alys back to this universe. I would rather not have to send this Alys back to that barren wasteland, but wasn’t sure what to do about it though. Hopefully both of them will be willing to give me time to figure out how to control this, rescue Ben, and then together try and fix this whole mess.
Rescuing Ben meant I needed to learn to hyperaccelerate myself, which meant trying this again. Well, since I can hyperaccelerate Alys repeatedly, this should be a simple matter of swapping targets, right? We prepped the experiment and tried again.
Elsewhere in the Galaxy:
Ben, meanwhile, had been looking into what the Sith were really after… As it turned out, the upper echelons weren’t telling – but one of the Sith instructors had his own notions. He wanted to have the Valen Sith replace or supplement the – obviously grossly incompetent – Jedi order, possibly setting up their own temple opposite the Jedi temple. They could work with the Jedi to exterminate those imbecilic HoloSith too…
Oh, now that was almost tempting. Just to see the expressions on the faces of the Jedi Council as the Republic funded a Sith order across the way in the interests of “balance” or something.
Valerie sat up with a start. Her bond with Kira suddenly felt really weird and very distant. She had sensed his connection to her waver up and down in strength several times in the last few hours, but now it was almost completely cut off.
He wasn’t dead, that much was certain. But whatever had happened to him was highly unusual and had stretched their bond taunt. She really needed to find wherever that team of his was hiding and soon. If whatever stunt he had pulled hasn’t killed him, she was sure to after this. If what her mother said about these bonds is true, the sooner she tracked Kira down, the better.
Back on the Base:
I suddenly found myself surrounded by people I’ve never met before all staring at me like I was growing antlers or something equally odd. Several of them were face-palming and sighing in exasperation over something, probably me. Not wanting to be rude, but really wanting to know what was going on, I asked politely.
Alright, it looked like a version of myself from another timeline or parallel universe was experimenting in Codex techniques and fell out of the cosmos. This happened all too frequently back home with so many Codifier prospects, but in this case it looked like he and I swapped places like this lady named Alys Nere.
Apparently their Kira was actually a user of the ancient Binding arts, although they called it the Force. I had been wanting to know more about those lost arts, and it seemed he wanted to know more about the arts of the Codex. Now there is irony, I find the arts that might prevent me from falling out of the cosmos and into the multiverse, and I only find them because another version of me sucks me out of my home by mistake.
If anything is a good sign, it does look like the process might be reversible with a great deal more control than he had, which I’ve got. Problem is going to be targetting the correct timeline out of the infinite chaos out there. The “Jedi” named Telera offered that the great seer Ben Therus these people knew might be able to see the correct timeline given time. Perfect! I might be able to get some vital information on the Binding arts and get home in time for dinner even.
Except, it turns out this Ben is being held captive on a major command ship belonging to the enemy. This enemy looked to be evil Binders not unlike the Faders from back home. Well it’s not like anything worth doing is easy and this is likely to be no different. Now to learn about these “Sith”, what they can do, and what they would not expect Kira to be able to do. This should be fun.
Ben and Lazlo, meanwhile, were resisting a few casual attempts to push them into using the Force while in a rage – and thus towards the Dark Side. Their instructor was pleased… If they had been that easy to push into a loss of control, they’d have been poor prospects indeed. They got the afternoon off to look around the civilian areas – where Ben tried to set Lazlo up with a girl. Maybe that would make him a bit less tense.
In another galaxy, similar, yet different from home:
I found myself staring at an unfamiliar sky. Had I put myself into stasis by accident and just been freed by the others? If so, then why am I not on the Asrai or the Base?
I only got a split second’s warning before the blow sunk into the grass where my head just was. Rolling quickly to my feet and jumping onto a high wall nearby, I pulled out my lightsaber and shield while taking a look at my attacker. All I could see was a vaguely humanoid shape burning brightly in a manner very similar to the survivors from the Shar research group. Whoever it was seemed mildly surprised I wasn’t flattened through by that attack.
Why they were attacking me was irrelevant until I got them to stop or died. Fighting someone with this kind of speed was going to be difficult indeed. The attack came almost instantly and my precognition was the only thing keeping me from getting skewered by that abruptly-apearing burning blade of incandescence. Whoever my attacker was didn’t seem to understand lightsabers as they met my parry and neatly sheared off half their sword.
All sense of accomplishment left me as my attacker blurred faster than I could sense and grappled me from behind. They swung my arm and forced me to throw away my lightsaber with supernatural speed that nearly tore my arm off. Feeling the intense heat of the acceleration technique they were using, I tapped into my power and enhanced my strength enough to break the hold and throw my opponent into a nearby tree only to watch as they passed through the tree and roll into the ground beyond leaving both attacker and tree unharmed.
Ok, that is new.
The intensity of the fire surrounding them lessened a bit and I could make out a female form underneath the flames. They charged again and I telekinetically pulled my lightsaber to my hands readying a defensive stance. With a bright flash of light and speed, I found myself face first into the ground tasting the grass. Maroni wildgrass if I had to guess. My arms were bound tightly behind me with rope as I heard a familiar sounding female voice speak to me.
(Valerie) Alright, what did you do with my fiancee and how did you do all that stuff?
Well that explained why I was face first into the ground. It didn’t really explain much else though. I was allowed to get back to my feet again. Valerie was wearing a bright yellow dress I would have thought she would never have been caught dead in. Her Force signature was also incredibly hard to detect when usually it was incredibly hard not to notice. What was going on?
(Valerie) But wait, you suddenly disappeared and came back dressed like this? What’s with the weird powers and the weapons? Why are you dressed like some sort of assassin?
(Kira) Alright, I can explain. It appears that in experimenting with some new technique, I dropped out of my universe and into yours.
(Valerie) Experimenting?! Then what happened to my fiancee?!
(Kira) What do you mean your fiancee? As best as I understand, I should either move into an empty space or just swap with my….
My jaw just about hit the grass as that thought completed. Oh crap, I’m a dead man now. I wonder what special sauce my counterpart used to pull this stunt off. Heh, boy is he in for a rude surprise should he run into my version of Valerie. I wonder which of us has it worse?
(Valerie) Yeah, him, NOW BRING HIM BACK!
Probably me then.
(Kira) Do you really think if I knew how to do that, that I’d be stuck here looking at your smiling face?
(Valerie) Are you getting smart with me asshole?
(Kira) Well if you’d think first before just spouting off dem….
I ended up face first in the grass again. Damn, she’s fast, about the only person I know faster than my mouth.
(Valerie) You really need to learn the proper way to address a lady.
Lady my ass, thankfully, this version of Valerie didn’t seem to be telepathic.
(Kira) I seem to recall such a lesson from you, but to no avail.
(Valerie) You’re not as charming as your counterpart.
(Kira) Aww, got a soft spot for the white haired pretty boys?
That earned me a fist to the jaw and the world around me blacked out. I awoke some time later with my hands and feet bound together. I could probably untie them telekinetically, but I figured it best to find out what was happening before showing off more abilities.
(Valerie) Alright, it is clear you are not using the Codex but using something else. Your healing ability and those other stunts is proof of that.
(Kira) And you are obviously not using the Force.
(Valerie) I take it my counterpart does?
(Valerie) And you as well?
(Kira) To a lesser extent.
That seemed to bring a smirk to her face. There certainly was a sense of satisfaction to it. Keep complimenting her and I might survive the next hour.
(Valerie) My fiance was interested in learning about ancient techniques related to the Binding. Apparently the Binding bound all life in the universe together. He hoped to find a way to ensure that he wouldn’t disappear from our existence from overuse of the Codex.
(Kira) Yep, that sounds like the Force.
(Valerie) And just for completion, do you seek anything?
(Kira) No point in hiding it now. Excessive Force use can result in massive explosions of power and insanity that destroy the mind and body. I was hoping to find an Anti-Force to keep it in check. In fact I was experimenting with a supposed Anti-Force technique when I appeared here.
(Valerie) Sounds like you are looking for the Codex then.
Oh now this was damned convienent. I’d be able to not go Sith only to still never be able to see friends and family again. At least, my versions anyway. Of course, that was all assuming this Valerie let me live after ruining her upcoming wedding to a very smooth talking version of myself.
(Valerie) Alright, you wish to learn about the Codex, and I want to trade this ass in front of me for my fiance. Better control of the Codex might allow you to steer yourself back to your universe.
(Kira) Great, more brutal training under your fist.
(Valerie) Oh, you thought I was harsh before? We are first going to need to trigger your own breakthrough of Codex potential.
At which point she started cracking her knuckles.