Hearing the Jedi council confirm that my family did not seem to be in their custody was more than a bit upsetting. At the very least it meant that the Alderaan branch of the Order had neglected to mention taking them into protective custody. In the worst case it meant that they were in the hands of the Sith and were being subjected to who knows what sort of dark and insane experiments or tortures.
At the very least this would explain why there were no letters for me when I got back into the galaxy.
Ben sighed… It looked like the galactic archives were only updated every five years or so, and that the entire system was running well behind. That really wasn’t any surprise when you considered the size of the job – or the fact that the Jedi apparently insisted on including all their visions and such. Look at the amount of notes and history that he was generating, then multiply that by a galaxy. It was astonishing that even a droid-and-computer based filing system could find ANYTHING in the place, much less something that was recent enough that it might not have been cross-indexed yet. Was the Jedi Order – or the Republic itself – becoming senescent? The archives – the galactic memory – were becoming impossibly clogged.
It was entirely possible that Kira’s family and friends were in protective custody and it simply hadn’t been entered into the records yet.
Besides… He’d never really thought about it – but after more than ten thousand years… how could you tell “novelist” from “historian”? How much of the early history of the republic was mythology rather than historical?
I was really wanting to go to Alderaan directly and do my own search of the place, but the odds of something going wrong were about one in five and the odds of successfully picking up the trail were also negligible. That meant running a nearly galaxy wide search for them and I just didn’t have the resources to search a planet, let alone a galaxy. Blast it, if only I could better use my precognition and probability analysis in tandem I could narrow down the search area more.
What was really odd was that there were no apparent ransom demands. I would have thought that whoever had them would want to be getting their hands on me too and they have the perfect hostages. That pointed to someone having them in protective custody again, but I am not naive enough to believe that without verification.
The Jedi were willing to initiate a galactic search for them at least. I am pretty sure I didn’t like the insinuation that my family running loose was something to worry about, but the thought of them ending up in Sith custody was concerning to the Jedi as well. At least they have more resources and manpower at their disposal than I do. I just don’t like the idea of leaving my family and friends safety up to the Jedi after all the blank looks I’ve seen today.
Ben then wanted to discuss plans for how we might go after Zandaras. I motioned that I suspected the Council Chambers were being monitored and he gave a knowing smile. He then went into an elaborate plan on how he was going to use a superweapon to capture Zandaras. At first I thought he was serious until Alys started throwing in using the jellyfish to eat the ships. I see, Ben’s counting on the Council being monitored and is feeding a line of complete BS to anyone listening in. I then made mention of crossbreeding the jellyfish with the glue tree to make them extra sticky so that Ben would have an easier time fashioning them into bolas with asteroids. At least coming up with utterly insane plans was distracting me from thinking about my family more.
The Jedi found that mildly amusing. It was – of course – possible that the council chambers were being monitored somehow, and they could easily pick up the groups intent – but they considered the possibility most unlikely. Still, this bout of smokescreening harmed nothing, and certainly indicated that these trouble magnets had agreed to try to do something about Zandaras. The group certainly had a track record of fouling up enemy plans, occasionally killing some of them, and somehow escaping afterwards – which was almost exactly what was needed here.
It was amusing to feel my probability sense balk on this plan (well, OK, maybe I simply wasn’t skilled enough yet to evaluate the infinitesimal probability of it getting anywhere). A-Valerie boasted that the odds on anything were calculable, but to me that was a dare. If I ever see her again, I’ll be sure to bring this plan up just to see the look on her face. Not sure if our Valerie would appreciate it.
With any presumed listeners presumably thoroughly confused, we departed from the Jedi Temple. I purchased some small items and a few sets of normal clothing before we headed back to the Asrai. Thankfully I can claim success on one front: Codex powers made it easier to spend time on Coruscant. It meant I couldn’t use my Force senses, but I think that is a small price to pay for not hearing the thoughts of everyone nearby.
The others did a little luxury shopping as well. Now that they had the cash, they might as well enjoy it a bit before they departed in yet another suicide mission.
Handell started making publishing arrangements… Whatever the rest of them got into, he was pretty sure that – as long as he was at the controls of a functioning ship – his odds of escaping it were pretty good, and some independent income would be nice.
Once we all returned to the Asrai, we departed Coruscant. Handell wanted to know where we were headed next. This brought up the discussion of how we really wanted to face Darth Zandaras since we weren’t going to be using Sticky Jellyfish bolas. I was all for a stealth infiltration followed by sabotage and assassinations. That after all was how I was trained as a Force user. Others wanted to bring more of our resources into the fray, including the base which I was against. The discussion was getting nowhere fast – with proposals including taking all their resources in for a frontal attack, sneaking in through other universes, tunneling in, taking the Asrai and sneaking in, heading in while announcing their intention of joining the Sith, sneaking in through multiple routes and meeting later, going in as bait (obvious or not), and even asking the Varen to smuggle them in. They were up to at least two different plans per participant in the debate when one of us observed that we didn’t know the condition of the base since we returned to this galaxy.
Since the base was the source of our supplies and other ships we decided to at least check on it. Handell immediately fired up the hyperdrive and took us towards the edge of Republic space. The journey was fast enough given that Coruscant was on one of the major hyperspace lanes leading outwards. We dropped out of hyperspace in the Perendul system to find the base where we had left it. Only it was covered with an additional thirty ships that weren’t there before. As if that wasn’t bad enough, there was a battlecruiser nearby as well. If I had to guess, I would say it was bounty hunters and Sith.
Handell took the Asrai and hid it behind one of the nearby asteroids while Shipwreck did his magic with ECM and scanning. We quickly determined that the ships were in fact bounty hunter ships, that the bases tunnel system had been greatly expanded, and that the battlecruiser belonged to the Baramour Sith. Looking at the communications traffic, it also became apparent that Jarik was no longer in stasis and was now in control of the base. Unfortunately it looked like he had come out of stasis with a full Sith complex and was negotiating joining the Baramour, bringing along the bioweapon data we had in exchange for instant seniority.
While my mind started dreaming up all sorts of nightmarish scenarios on that front, Shipwreck started complaining about primitive encryption methods. Not really understanding what he was complaining about, I asked him to explain. Looked like someone was using the audio feed on one of the video channels as some sort of carrier for an encrypted signal – some incredibly ancient system that operated in the sonic frequency range. I had to admit that was different enough from everything else to warrant further investigation. Asking Shipwreck to read it showed it to be a data stream going to the Kira the Kat message boards. I think I can guess who might be doing that: Telera’s students.
Getting on the message boards ourselves, we found our message thread after some quick searching. The kids had posted a thread detailing a new fanfic where bounty hunters had stormed the base through packing a ship – or at least some well-shielded compartments inside one – full of bounty hunters and waited until the ship was docked to launch a takeover attempt. They then found us missing and released Jarik to question on our whereabouts. Jarik then proceeded to use some bioweapon plague to mindcontrol or blackmail the bounty hunters into his control. The Baramour then showed up and negotiations started. Xiang meanwhile was leading what bounty hunters were immune to Jarik’s plague against Jarik in a resistance effort. The kids were hiding in one of the bounty hunter ships after having christened it their clubhouse – and were considering a takeoff if anyone came near them.
A quick look at the tactical situation showed us to be severely outmatched. Not only were there a lot of bounty hunter ships out there, but two capital class ships that both wanted me rather badly. The Asrai didn’t stand a chance in a firefight against that kind of firepower. Well if I can’t defeat my enemies with sheer power, then it was time to get them to do all the work for me. The base and the battlecruiser were roughly on par with each other in terms of capabilities. The base was slower than the battlecruiser, but had far more armor in the form of rock and metal. A battle between the two could potentially go either way with the bounty hunter ships and their missiles proving to be the deciding factor.
Now how do I get the bounty hunters to shoot at a Sith capital ship?
The answer came to me as I realized once again how absurd my life has gotten: pretend I was aboard the Baramour vessel. As paranoid as Jarik has gotten, it would be easy to make him think I was betraying him to the Baramour, in fact that was going to be the easiest part. Trouble was getting the bounty hunters to swallow the idea too. For it to work, the communications signal would have to actually come from inside the Baramour ship to seem plausible. Boarding the battlecruiser without being noticed was going to be impossible though.
At which point Ben suggested that we open a hyperspace tunnel to the Baramour ship. I pointed out that the hyperspace tunnel system was aboard the base and Ben then noted that he had actually built modifications into the Asrai’s systems to enable it to form hyperspace tunnels as an escape route. I really need to keep a better eye on him I think. I then pointed out that regardless of the fact that we had one, aiming the other end was going to be impossible with the precision needed. Ben then revealed that he thought he could “tune into” the Baramour ship’s hyperdrive and use that as an anchorpoint somehow, especially if I helped steer the formation of the gate.
He either needs to stop trying to explain this stuff to me or I need to take several semesters in hyperspace theory.
Ben was actually planning to use a reasonably well-known principle – the one the hyperspace laboratory had been playing with. Two hyperdrives carefully tuned to resonate with each other would open a hypertunnel between them. The problem was that it took incredibly careful tuning (in fact, the only way to make it work at ranges of more than a few miles was to have an extremely skilled precognitive making the adjustments, and even then a few thousand miles would be the limit), it was vastly power-hungry, it took hours to set up in a stable situation, and it wasn’t reliable for more than a few minutes even with a force-user making the trip to help reduce the instabilities.
Still, his target ship was sitting still – and he was sufficiently skilled in precognition and as a hyperspace mechanic to tune to it on the fly. If Shipwreck could cover them for long enough, he might be able to set up a minimal boarding action directly to the Barramour ship’s engine room. It would send the engineers readings insane, but outside of a combat alert that would take them precious moments to react to – and by that time they’d be boarded. He’d have to stay at the controls to keep things synched of course, otherwise the tunnel would collapse near-instantly…
Since apparently this technique would require Force users to be on the boarding party, it was pretty much mandatory that I go. Lazlo also volunteered, as did Khadim and 10CH. Ben was going to stay behind to help keep the portal open so we could come back. So we would open the tunnel, go through, drop off a message repeater, and then return to the Asrai. Ben then got to work tinkering with the hyperdrive, which only seemed to annoy Handell to no end. Can’t say I blamed him, that hyperdrive wasn’t going to be available if we needed to escape rapidly now.
Some hours later, Ben announced his preparations complete and we fired up the tunnel system. I could see what I can only imagine was the Baramour ship’s engineering bay on the other side of the tunnel when it opened. Stepping through, it appeared we hadn’t been noticed yet, but one of the engineers was turning in our direction in response to some system notification. Khadim and 10CH were busy setting up the message repeater and would need a few more minutes before they were done so Lazlo and I needed to buy some time. So I stepped forward and began to act.
(Kira) Ah, it appears that I, the Evil Dark Lord Zomogoostar, have successfully teleported myself via the Force. Most excellent, this will be most handy in my future evil schemes to become the Supreme Dark Lord of the Sith. Now to see if I can teleport others. Who shall be my first victim… I mean volunteer?
For a moment, Lazlo wasn’t sure how serious that was.
Everyone in the room turned to look at me in stunned silence and I had an extremely hard time not busting out laughing. Lazlo immediately started to pummel people, 10CH started firing off gas grenades, and Khadim brandished that sawed-off torpedo launcher of his. The guard in the bay finally recovered his wits and hit an alarm button – which also sealed the door and sent the engineers in the room into a panic. At which point the air in the room took on an ominous green tint and the engineers – both human and non-human – started panicking even more. Oh hell, I should have expected this of the Baramour. We had to get back to Welhem and fast. Still I didn’t want to leave these poor people here to suffer whatever fate the Baramour security system was going to give them.
(Kira) Alright, enough with the act. I’m getting out of here to where I can get medical attention. If any of you want to receive medical care too, then I suggest you come along.
We started to herd everyone through the gate, but some of the engineers fell unconscious to the floor and had to be drug through the gate. I did what I could to help, but soon enough my ability to neutralize whatever was happening to me was overwhelmed and I too slumped to the floor. Thankfully 10CH drug me through the tunnel back to the Asrai as he and Khadim rescued the others. I awoke to see Welhem standing over me as I laid on the floor of one of the Asrai’s cargo bays along with the other sick.
Lazlo was appalled at that! Ew! Mold! Getitoff! Getitoff! Gross! Khadim tried to calm him down without much success. After all, it wasn’t as if Khadim had much to worry about!
I was informed that this particular bioweapon was a kind of mossy fungus that secreted hibernation chemicals into the bloodstream of anyone it contacted. It wasn’t too well controlled; without treatment or monitoring it would kill a small percentage of those exposed – but otherwise it was a very effective capture system. Welhem neutralized the chemicals, but wanted to know if I wanted to have it become a symbiote. I opted to not take the symbiotic route and asked how I might rid myself of the fungus. That turned out to require lots of hard scrubbing likely to turn my skin pink and raw, anti-fungal cream, and shaving all the hair on my body. Well, I am used to having my skin become very pink and raw and I was planning on getting a haircut anyway. We all took turns in the showers scrubbing ourselves off and shaving all our hair off.
Once I was done (no, I’m not talking about why we had to filter shower noises out of the communications), I got into my other set of robes and started listening in on the negotiations between Jarik and the Baramour. Handell was busily soaking the interior of the ship with anti-biological chemicals. I really wanted to ask where he had gotten those from but was afraid of what the answer might be. Nevertheless, once the others were done cleaning themselves and the ship, we picked a particularly tense moment in the negotiations and joined the channel via our repeater.
(Kira) I am tired of the delays. I had given you the opportunity to bring him over to our side because I thought he might be useful, but my patience is worn out! Have the fool eliminated immediately!
The look on the Baramour Lord Leondegrace’s face as I came his screen was one I will treasure for the rest of my life. The look of shock and confusion was everything I could have hoped for and more. Jarik recovered first.
(Jarik) You! What are you doing over there?
(Kira) Isn’t it obvious? I’m selling you out to the Baramour. Why else would I be over here?
(Leondegrace) What do you mean it’s coming from the engineering bay?! How the hell did he end up onboard?!
Alys, Ben, and the others all added their own voices to the mix as we all proceeded to spin a tale so outrageous that Leondegrace was unable to respond effectively, and Jarik bought every word of it. Jarik then dropped off the channel as he prepared to open fire leaving us and Leondegrace on the channel.
(Leondegrace) It seems Soung has taught you well.
He then dropped from the channel too as the firefight began in earnest. The base opened fire on the battlecruiser and the battlecruiser began to return fire. Several of the bounty hunter ships on the base launched and went to attack the battlecruiser while more began to appear from hiding on other asteroids, where they had apparently been lurking in hopes of catching me and the others. Multiple support ships came up to support the Baramour battlecruiser, a general call for help from the local Republic forces went out, and someone even tried promoting the giant invisible jellyfish routine with a side order of “hiding it from precognition”.
I had to admit, the sheer chaos we had just unleashed was impressive by almost any measure. At least the kids were staying put in their “clubhouse”. That showed sense.
Added to the chaos was the fact that Xiang apparently took the chance to start leading a major assault against Jarik inside the base. The kids had enough sense to stay hidden as the fireworks went off all over the place. Unfortunately there wasn’t much we could do with the situation once it started given the limited resources available to us. All we could do was sit and wait for a victor to be decided. Eventually the Baramour began to retreat after taking serious damage – or at least after deciding that they weren’t going to be making a profit today. Leondegrace’s parting comments as he left made it very clear he was not happy with me. I can probably expect more bioweapons in my future.
Now that the remaining bounty hunter ships were docking with the base for repairs and medical attention (and everyone was done bathing, scrubbing, and soaking in anti-fungal chemicals). Handell slipped us in amongst the others and we docked with the base as well. There didn’t seem to be any other way to sneak in – except through the force predators dome, just as we’d left things. Up against our own security measures blast it… Inside, the base was showing signs of heavy modifications and massive fighting. Indeed, you could feel the explosions through the rock itself. Establishing more direct communications with the kids, we learned that Jarik had fortified himself in the command center while the power system was busily sucking any intruders into more neutronium. Xiang meanwhile was working on trying to blow up the base to keep the bioweapon data from falling into Sith hands.
Right, regaining control of the power system was top priority. Although if the system was being used to eat any intruders into engineering, then there wasn’t going to be any easy way to do that. Well, wait, it was entirely possible that the bounty hunters and Jarik had been overlooking the furipedes this entire time. If we could get them to help us in retaking control of the power systems, then we could focus our efforts on retaking the command center.
It took several minutes to find “one” of the furipedes, and even longer to explain what was going on. At least they were familiar with the concept of Dark Side rampages even if they didn’t have that problem themselves. Even silicon-based life forms can agree that letting a Sith turn everyone into neutronium was a bad idea. As the furipedes went to work on that issue, the party decided to split up our efforts. Alys, 10CH, and Khadim went to find Xiang to help coordinate our efforts while Lazlo, Ben and I went after Jarik. Telera and Welhem were beginning to take care of the wounded and to protect the kids – although it looked like they’d put an undocumented hidden dock into the plans as a potential emergency escape route and had simply retreated into the ship they’d hidden there.
Now we had to find our way to the command center. Running along the surface of the asteroid was a bad idea in my opinion given that the neutronium system was still operational. Through the oxygen caves was another option, but those were filled with a ton of plants grown by Jarik, a now insane Sith doctor. I’ve already had enough with bioweapons today. Third option was to go through a ridiculous obstacle course Jacob had apparently set up filled with dropping ceilings, swinging blades, blaster turrents, and homicidal droids. Not only did I not want to go through that mess, but I wanted to shoot Jacob for installing such an insane mess on my base to begin with.
Fourth option was to head through the living areas of the base. The route was the longest – and would pass through the kitchens and maintenance area as well – but it was also likely to have the fewest homicidal contraptions or monsters inside. Unfortunately, that was also where the majority of the bounty hunters were and I didn’t want to have to deal with that yet. That left making a run through the manufacturing shop. The biggest issues there was the sheer amount of droids and weaponry likely to be available. Sadly, that also looked like the safest bet too, despite the fact that – unlike Kira the Kat – cream pie launchers were NOT the major form or armament being produced… We had been running off antimatter missiles. Hopefully they weren’t piled in the corners or something.
I took the lead as we proceeded cautiously towards the manufacturing shop. We came upon an intersection in the hallway where it looked like two groups were facing off against each other. One was a group of bounty hunters that seemed to be under Jarik’s control, and the other was a single bounty hunter aligned with Xiang with a lot of stun mines. Oddly, the bounty hunters aligned with Jarik seemed to be desperate for some reason I can’t determine. It seemed most expedient to work with the bounty hunter allied with Xiang against the others.
To that end I tried to grab one of the others telekinetically, drag him onto the mines and leave him stunned or unconscious. Unfortunately, the sheer amount of armor he was wearing was hindering my ability to just outright pull him forward and ended up just slowly dragging him out from behind cover. Our ally of circumstance then proceeded to shoot the fellow, wounding him badly. Blast, it can be hard to tell where the line lies with what constitutes and attack with the Force and I’ve been lucky thus far. Not wanting to kill him, I let go of him and allowed him to crawl back behind cover. However the mines had detected his presence and were now giving chase.
Lazlo suddenly found himself dealing with a pair of bounty hunters that came up behind us, and I was busily seeking cover from a hail of blaster fire when I saw a thermal detonator land next to us. I was pondering making a hyper accelerated run for it when Ben leapt out and did something I couldn’t see. Suddenly the thermal detonator went off and was channelled back along the hallway towards the bounty hunters that had just thrown it at us. Ben was smoking a bit, but was otherwise unharmed. I am not sure I want to know what he just did there.
Lazlo had mostly relied on his reflexes… He’d dodged their shots long enough to close and use his enhanced strength to take away their weapons – and then had tried to reason with them. His reputation as a horrific Sith bioweapon had gotten in the way though – especially after he took a blaster hit with no particular sign of injury or distress.
He’d let them run off after destroying most of their weapons. There hadn’t seemed to be any point in keeping them.
Ben had upgraded his armor with a shield generator – and had, with a frantic effort (and his precognitive shield operation skill) managed to adjust his shields to redirect most of the blast away from them. He’d surprised himself when he’d gotten that to work – but it had kept him and his friends form being blown to bits. Thermal detonators were no joke.
Looking at Lazlo, he had apparently beaten his attackers into unconsciousness or flight with his bare hands. Am I the only one disturbed by how powerful my companions seem to be? Just how accurate was that stuff about Lazlo being a living weapon?
My thoughts along that line were distracted when the bounty hunter “allied” with us wanted to get a good look at me. There wasn’t much point trying to hide my face as he recognized me and then proceeded to make requests that I surrender once the battle was over. This started much arguing with me refusing, and the bounty hunter trying to argue that it was the best idea. His offer to donate 75% of the bounty to my friends and family – or to any charity that I wanted – caught me off guard. I would hope Sabrina, Dorothy and the others wouldn’t trade me for that kind of money, but then twenty two and a half billion credits is a lot of money and would mean they could all retire fabulously rich immediately.
What if that truly is the best thing I could do for them?
Thankfully Ben saw my hesitation and said we would discuss this later, but that we had to stop Jarik first. Agreeing to try to keep the damage as minimal as possible, the bounty hunter recalled his little hunter-droids and we set off again. We soon found ourselves in the metal processing facility. Giant pots of molten metal were all over the place and I could see more than a dozen bounty hunters arguing about something. I was looking for a way to sneak around them all when Lazlo promptly stepped forward and started offering them all tea. That nicely got everyone distracted, although I wasn’t sure I thought it smart.
Meanwhile, Alys and company had reached Xiang, gotten some of Ben’s old bio-armor, and started trying to talk her down from her death-or-glory crusade against the Sith. Simply getting some rational strategies into play – instead of Xiang’s standard “have everyone else create a diversion while I head in and confront the Sith” – started making a difference pretty rapidly. Fortunately, Jarik seemed to have no real tactical sense either – and Xiang had a decent private communications network running to her forces.
It was easy enough to cut Kira and the rest in on that and start communicating and coordinating. It looked like they were bogged down in manufacturing – and it looked like Jarik had been stockpiling experiments, supplies, weapons, and gear. He’d also been upgrading that ship of his – and that made a pattern that she didn’t at all like. Especially with the construction that he’d done around the control center. His own private escape route no doubt. Why hadn’t Xiang realized that already?
Oh yes. Holos. Xiang was headed for the dramatic confrontation at the climax where she would defeat the Sith – and the Sith in the holos hardly ever took even the most elementary precautions against defeat. Unfortunately, Jarik was NOT an idiot.
What else had he changed? All that digging, more labs, storage areas, oh dear. What had he done with the Force Predator? The entire area where it was supposed to be had apparently been rigged as a booby trap just in case someone tried to get in that way.
Ben didn’t like the look of what had been being built… It looked like Jarik had been building remote-operated defense turrets for local defense, which was quite understandable, and small, heavily-screened, low-signature, droid-brained bombing drones – but designed for very small payloads. And to scatter them rather than to hit precision targets… He’d been preparing for either bioweapon blackmail or to spread plagues on a planetary scale or both. That was COMPLETELY over the edge. Even the Sith didn’t usually go in for that kind of insanity, it went wildly out of control all too often!
Nevertheless, I set the robes into a blending pattern and started quietly moving along the edge of the facility while staying out of sight. I nearly fell over when Xiang immediately started hollering at us over the commlinks loud enough to be heard by everyone present. I muted my commlink as quickly as I could and then looked around to see who had noticed me. Thankfully, everyone was paying attention to Lazlo headbutting people into unconsciousness. I then got a really good view of a Kredath berserker tipping one of the pots of molten metal onto Lazlo. I simply didn’t have time to intervene or activate the hypertime effect before Ben and Lazlo were swallowed by the sea of metal.
Ben was frantically making shield adjustments again… Fortunately, the metal stream didn’t carry much actual impact – but what leaked in along the floor was rapidly welding his feet to the floor, and having Lazlo draped across him was NOT helping him stand! Still, it was easy enough to hold a bubble, and Lazlo had an airmask – but they could still roast slowly. This was not good.
I kept expecting to sense their lives disappear any moment, but several moments passed with their Force presences still going strong. Not really seeing anything I could do to help that wouldn’t result in me just getting blasted into unconsciousness, I optted to keep sneaking silently along towards the corridor leading to the commander center. I found a set of Ben’s experimental armor leaning against the wall about halfway there and decided that it was probably prudent to get into a sealed suit and wear something the bounty hunters wouldn’t recognize. Dragging the suit behind one of the machining tables, I started to put it on.
About the time I had everything but the helmet put on, I heard a horrifically loud ringing noise like someone was hitting a bell with a sledgehammer. Putting on the helmet and taking a look, I saw the bubble of molten metal around Lazlo and Ben bulge and warp in timing with the ringing sound. Damn, just how strong is that cat?! He’s literally hammering his way out of a cocoon of semi molten metal with what I can only presume is his fists. How exactly did my Sith counterpart manage to be the one in charge?
Actually, that was Ben… A few careful adjustments to his variable star had allowed him to exert terrific pressures as he rapped it against the walls – but he wasn’t making a lot of progress. Damn it! There had to be some way to get out in reasonable speed! They couldn’t live for long in the middle of a red-hot sphere of metal even with a shield generator!
I watched the Kredath dump another pot of molten metal onto the mess and decided that while I couldn’t help them escape, I certainly didn’t want to be around when Lazlo broke free of that mess either. Nothing I really could do but to keep heading towards Jarik and let Alys and Xiang come to the rescue. Starting down the corridor, I saw another dozen bounty hunters running up behind me towards the bridge. I can only speculate that they were more of Xiang’s bunch as they rushed past me and into the command center.
Instead of sounds of explosions and gunfire like I expected, I only heard horrified screams and a monstrous snarling sound.
Oh crap, I think I know what that sound is.
As Alys and Khadim and 10CH – all of whom had SOME tactical skills – sent Xiang’s bounty hunters into a final attack on the control chambers, the kids – and what surface instruments they had taps on – reported that someone was taking off, in what looked like Jarik’s freighter. Damn! The man had obviously gone completely over the edge, and his escape was a potential catastrophe! Particularly with whatever he’d managed to stuff into that ship!
My suspicions were only reinforced as the bounty hunters came running back with fewer numbers and far more injuries. I flattened myself against the wall as they passed by and grabbed onto the Codex hard to try and suppress my Force presence as much as possible. Alys immediately came over the commlink asking about some sort of ship escaping.
(Kira) Alys, handle it as best you can, I’m REALLY busy at the moment with a hungry Force predator.
I heard Alys swear over the commlink but stopped paying attention to her. I was focused on the predator and bounty hunters getting slaughtered by it. The smart thing to do would be to let it kill the bounty hunters while waiting for the opportune moment to strike. After all, the bounty hunters were here to capture me to take back to the Sith. Valerie could do it, she could make that sort of decision, but I don’t think I can. Pulling out my blaster and lightsaber, I picked my spot and put myself in the path of death. She would tell me how stupid I was to try to save these people.
(Kira) Run and take cover, I’m going to try to hold it off!
Wait a moment, since when did I care about having Valerie’s approval?
All thoughts along that line were put on hold as the feline form slid into the corridor. I could probably match the creature in terms of speed, strength and agility, but those regenerative powers were beyond me. On the plus side, I had a lot more tricks up my sleeves than it did and I like to think I am smarter too. Best to keep this thing at range as much as possible. Melee would likely result in me being torn to shreds.
Pointing my blaster at the creature, it too became aware of my presence and made ready for the attack. We both entered hypertime simultaneously.
Meanwhile, Alys was swearing… they didn’t have any surface assets at all except for the Asrai, and it wasn’t yet hyper-capable and was full of spare parts rather than being loaded with weapons! Jarik was…
Wait! The kids were asking if they should fire on Jarik? They’d stocked their “clubhouse” with a full load of… antimatter missiles. Hell yes they should fire!
Surprisingly enough, two of the three kids managed to score hits with their volleys… All those video games paying off? Jarik escaped – but his ship was badly damaged, and it looked like his cargo had mostly been destroyed.
The kids were pretty pleased too. It might not have been a big battle for them, but they’d still played their part!
Meanwhile, Alys – not that Jarik was no longer at the primary controls – had taken over most of the base systems again – including the construction droids. Having them cut Ben and Lazlo out of that mess had been fairly simple – but evaluating what they could turn against that blasted force predator was harder.
Ben had already found his hamsterballs, and there were plenty of suits of armor down in manufacturing – but the heavy construction droids were fairly slow. Their only combat droids were… down in the water reserves. They were those underwater jobs.
Underwater… Could they drown the thing? Water would flow “down” into the artificial-gravity areas given a chance, could they trap it somewhere they could flood? That would take some time to set up though… Could Kira keep it busy long enough? Well, at least they could reinforce the doors and barriers.