Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 28

   With the party more or less decided on escaping, now it came down to planning how we might go about that. I was all for attempting to rig one of the damaged missile launchers to explode – and then making a break for a hyperdrive-equipped shuttle – while making it look like a consequence of the battle earlier. For reasons I found difficult to understand and more than a little disturbing, most of the party was against causing any more damage to the ship than we needed to.

   Great, I leave these guys alone with my alternate self for several months and I come back to find them all becoming Sith sympathizers.


   At which point Lazlo asked why we were so insistent on leaving if the Sith were such nice people. What followed was an awkward discussion where it was determined I was the only one likely to face serious repercussions from the Sith. Valerie would likely get off relatively easy being an alternate daughter of Master Soung, and most everyone else here had volunteered to join the Sith at some point. Hell, most of them could claim to have helped in capturing me in this giant debacle. And people wonder why I don’t trust anyone.

   Finally they all came back around to working towards escaping, just without causing more loss of life and property damage than necessary. Explosions were out of the question then. Ben wanted me to short out the ship’s power system using phasing, but I wasn’t keen on being anywhere near a shorted out power node backed by a star destroyer’s power grid. Lazlo wanted to call his fighter to us (although no one seemed to be quite sure how that would work, especially in hyperspace), but there was no way Valerie’s act would hold up for that long. The suggestion of putting me into stasis and launching a fighter so that it looked like I escaped seemed like a great way for everyone but me to get away. Simply making a mass break for fighters and shuttles seemed pretty unlikely to work.

   Actually, Kira’s impatience was leading him somewhat astray… Lazlo had simply noted that this particular batch of Sith seemed quite reasonable – and felt that it might be more sensible to try to explain, and see if that worked, before attempting yet another escape. If they kept going with the suicidal plans, sooner or later they were all going to die.

   Most of the others simply felt that they should consider the consequences of trying and failing to escape – and of possibly wrecking the ship they were on at the moment. It wasn’t so much that they objected to large explosions, or to damaging the Sith – it was the possibility of being intimately involved in their own explosions or of wining up trapped aboard a vessel that was making an uncontrolled exit from hyperspace at an unknown location in deep space.

   The suggestion of bribing people to let a multi-billion (when the hell did that happen?!) bounty escape was even more ludicrous. About the only suggestion that seemed to make any sense and have a reasonable chance of working was the idea of hooking up loads to the hyperdrives in the…. office building. Apparently this would interfere with the ship’s hyperdrive in some fashion I didn’t understand and would cause the engineering team to shut it down. At which point we could escape in a shuttle.

   That was one of Ben’s suggestions; the Winter Moon was already operating on its hyperdrive backups. Now, the hyperfield generators in the labs would resonate with the hyperdrive field and draw energy from it – they’d just seen a drastic demonstration of THAT. The more closely they were tuned to it, the more efficiently they could drain the field – so all they needed was to tune them and find a load that could absorb the power output for a few minutes. It was unlikely that they could actually damage even the backup hyperdrive on a ship this large that way – but they could certainly throw some unexplained power drains and spikes into the engineering readouts.

   That should be enough – especially considering all the systems damage – to make the engineers shut down the hyperdrive to have a look. No one wanted to risk a catastrophic hyperdrive failure while the drive was in operation…

   At first I thought to have 10CH pilot the shuttle but I was quickly reminded that he didn’t know how to pilot. Lazlo volunteered, but I wasn’t keen on the idea of having one of the party members that volunteered to join the Sith aid in my escape. At the very least it would raise suspicion upon the other supposed Sith in the party. No, it was best if one of the other party members that had a motive to escape piloted instead. At which point Alys volunteered to do so.

   So the plan became that 10CH – in the guise of yet another ubiquitous maintenance droid – would rig the experimental hyperdrives while Valerie took us to the office building in the shuttle bay as part of her interrogation of me. 10CH would then activate the hyperdrives while he and Alys made their way to a shuttle and prepped it for launch. I would then wait for the fireworks to begin before making my own escape to the shuttle. We would leave the star destroyer and escape to hyperspace. Valerie would then lead the rest of the group in a chase against me as they too escaped into hyperspace aboard another shuttle.

   With a few more minor tweaks, that plan finally achieved agreement all around.

   At that point the Sith admiral aboard this ship called in to speak with Valerie. I could feel the blood drain from my face as I saw Vera Morrowain on the screen. Morrowain would pick up on the deception with Valerie quickly. Morrowain then began to ask how my interrogation was going and if Valerie was able to determine how I was able to do those insane stunts my alternate apparently demonstrated repeatedly. I tried to deflect as much attention as I could from Valerie herself by pretending to be highly uncooperative and annoying, which wasn’t much of a stretch.

   Morrowain quickly grew tired of me and announced that Valerie had a few more hours before she sent professional interrogators to handle me. Well that didn’t give us much more time. 10CH went off to do his thing – and shortly thereafter Valerie took us to the shuttle bay. About twenty guards were waiting to keep an eye on me personally as part of Valerie’s escort. My alternate must have seriously pissed this guys off.

   10CH had a bit more trouble than expected… The Sith – or at least THESE Sith – were apparently starting to run security and identification checks on droids – and he had to spoof some protocols, talk his way past several checkpoints, and do a good bit of sneaking and explaining. If “he” hadn’t been an expert infiltrator, he’d have had a lot of trouble, and he hadn’t even been headed for any of the more vital areas of the ship.

   Rigging up the hyperdrives took some time as well – and the improvisations wouldn’t last that long, even if the lab did offer plenty of parts, there would be too much power running through things – and, for that matter, there were too many other droids and people poking around the place.

   The bay was dominated by the office building fused into the structure of the floor and ceiling and I could see the droids and technicians scratching their heads trying to figure out how to remove it. Again I tried to deflect as much attention from Valerie as I could by being a snot throughout the “interrogation”. The guard captain finally got annoyed enough with me that he shot me with his blaster. I tried that technique I’ve seen my Valerie do and backhanded the bolt to knock it aside. While that did deflect the blast quite nicely, my hand stung like hell from it.

   The smug look on my face as I looked at the guard captain earned me several more shots that overwhelmed me and left me on the floor with a serious headache. Luckily this meant all Valerie had to do was stand there and look annoyed, which was easy for her. I tell you, the things I do for people thanklessly. Jacob had meanwhile taken off to go look at a fighter for some obscure reason that I think had nothing to do with our plan whatsoever. Alys had also slipped off, but no one was paying her much heed at the moment.

   The trainer had no objections to letting a potential Sith trainee use an unoccupied simulator – and Jacob showed some remarkable natural talent [spending some XP to pick up a die in piloting]. He even let Jacob have a look at a real fighter, albeit after locking down the engines, weapons, and other major systems, and spent a little time explaining. The current fashion was for heavy fighters – shields, a bit of armor, and more and heavier weapons, so that they could take a few hits, hand out heavy punishment, and support ground operations. As an incidental benefit, they were more comfortable.

   The pricetag, of course, was a lack of maneuverability, not having enough spare power to mount a hyperdrive, and a tendency to take more hits – even if they did survive more of them. Like most things in Star Wars, fighter design was a mature technology, the possible engineering trade-offs were well understood, and the choice mostly depended on the high commands favored tactics and type of missions.

   Jacob really should have listened to that briefing a bit more closely.

   Once things started happening, Alys, taking full advantage of the fact that she was not a force-sensitive, not a serious combat threat, and was – compared to most of the rest of the group – not considered important, used Kira’s diversion to slip away into the office building. A search (and an auxiliary craft lockdown) was started a few moments later, but it wasn’t a high priority. Alys was harmless enough.

   Once 10CH saw that everyone else had arrived and was in position “he” set remote trigger and headed for their chosen hypershuttle to meet Alys. Once he was almost there, he set things off.

   Alys did manage to sneak out of the building and get aboard the shuttle in maintenance (every shuttle and fighter in the vicinity was in maintenance; bringing the laboratories aboard had also materialized a lot of random particles – which were hell on all the nearby circuitry), where she and 10CH had a rather passive “confrontation” with two maintenance droids and the piloting droid (“You’re that escaped prisoner that the alert is out on! You really should turn yourself in, because we’ve already reported your presence and the shuttle systems are locked down so that you can’t escape anyway.”).

   Blast it, the Sith were getting organized – and were relaying updates to the droids – even if it was no part of the maintenance droid’s job to actually confront anyone. This was not good at all – and some of the Sith security troops were already headed their way. Thankfully, they hadn’t yet reached the shuttle when the engineering department noticed the power fluctuations and decided to pull out of hyperspace.

   Soon enough we heard the intercom announce that we were doing an emergency drop out of hyperspace due to an engine malfunction. Taking that as my cue, I focused like I had been taught and went into hypertime. The guards all began to unload massive weapons fire at me as I made a run for it, snagging my lightsaber off Valerie’s belt along the way. Watching the movements of the blasters and timing wasn’t nearly as easy as the alternate Valerie suggested it was as I was unable to avoid a couple of shots. Pulling out my lightsaber and knocking them aside turned out to be surprisingly ineffective for some reason, as I barely managed to knock one mostly aside and half of the other clipped my shoulder hard.

   Oh yeah… Tempus isn’t compatible with Force Sense – so not only are the bolts jumping into fast time as they pass through the temporal interface, but I’m losing the precognitive edge that allows the trick to work reliably in the first place! Damn!

   Meanwhile, the alarms were going off, troops were deploying to their stations, the Admiral was issuing orders, Ben was shooting at Kira (trusting to his general inability to hit anything even when he was really trying), Jacob was acting over-excited, and Alternate Valerie was shouting orders to ready the pursuit.

   Ignoring this latest source of pain, I continued to run towards the shuttle we had marked earlier. About halfway there I was suddenly wrenched out of hypertime as I can only suppose the ship dropped out of hyperspace. Too much to hope that the resulting energy surges had actually damaged anything on a Star Destroyer… Bolting the rest of the way using regular Force speed techniques, I entered the shuttle. Inside, I found Alys and 10CH arguing with a trio of droids for whatever reason. I could see the pilot droid was doing something with the controls as Alys pulled her blaster and shot at it. Unfortunately she completely missed, hit the canopy, and the bolt then reflected back at me.

   Suddenly I got a good understanding of why Valerie kept complaining about her reflexes during practice as I reflexively deflected the bolt with my lightsaber and started it bouncing again. In hindsight, it might have been better to have just taken the shot in a way to minimize the damage as I watched the bolt bounce around until it collided with the weapons locker. Luckily it didn’t explode immediately – but it blew the lock, and I could see the weapons inside beginning to smoke and glow ominously. The piloting droid fled in terror at that point.

   Seeing several soldiers gathering outside the shuttle beginning to fire weapons at us, I figured it best to kill two problems with one solution as we loaded up the maintenance droids with the damaged weapons and sent them out to join the soldiers. The soldiers predictably reacted to seeing heavily armed droids come running towards them by opening fire on them. By that point Alys had already managed to override the locks on the shuttle controls [thanks to some remarkable – and Force-point boosted checks] and was beginning takeoff procedures. While the shuttle bay doors were shut in front of us, the Sith had seen fit to arm this shuttle with missiles. Blowing a hole in the door ahead of us made a mess, and engaged the atmosphere fields, and I think Alys scratched the paint on the one side squeezing through the hole. But it wasn’t my shuttle and it wasn’t my star destroyer either.

   This had better work though; any leisurely review of my “escape” would make it pretty obvious that Valerie had cooperated in it – and that would be the end of any chance of dodging serious interrogations all around!

   Back aboard, Alternate Valerie was bustling Lazlo and Ben aboard another shuttle to “launch in pursuit” – while Jacob was busy persuading the officer of the deck to re-activate his controls and allow him to join the pursuit – and the Admiral had ordered a general launch, which left him a way to avoid arguing with another lunatic Sith apprentice.

   Unfortunately, Jacob had forgotten that there literally wasn’t anywhere he could go; they were in deep space, and the fighter he was aboard did not have a hyperdrive. In fact, he didn’t recall that little problem until it was far too late.

   Out in space we were being followed by fighters far faster than I would have thought possible. Had Morrowain foreseen my escape attempt and already begun launching fighters before I could even get out? There wasn’t time to compute a hyperspace jump like I had planned and so Alys began a short jump in hopes of surviving long enough to compute a real course. That sense of impending dread I felt was too ill-focused to let me determine if it was Morrowain or the jump I needed to be concerned about.

   At which point I heard Valerie over the communications system as she was making all sorts of ominous sounding threats to me. You know, at times she is playing the role a little too well and that concerns me. However I couldn’t resist getting on the communications channel as well and taunting “Valerie” and Morrowain.

(Kira) Today you will remember as the day you almost caught Kira Keldav!

   And with that Alys took us to hyperspace.

   We dropped out moments later with alarms going off throughout the shuttle. All I could see was a large dim red sky in front of us that gave me that distinct sensation of heat. Alys started swearing as she jerked at the controls hard and I could see the shuttle begin to form a fireball around itself as we were going through reentry around something. Alys muttered something about a brown dwarf star, but it didn’t look that brown to me. Maybe a brick red, but not brown.

   Finally Alys regained control of the shuttle and we found ourselves in orbit around it. The damage reports indicated that we weren’t going to be able to go much of anywhere on our own now. Looking for somewhere to land, it looked like the second planet in the system had multiple barely habitable moons. Alys selected the largest one and took us in for a landing.

   That landing was not the smoothest by any means and I am certain we left parts of the shuttle behind us as we skidded across the surface. 10CH went to survey the damage and Alys started gathering what supplies we had available. From what little I could see, we weren’t going anywhere on our own. So it was a matter of finding help or waiting for help to arrive.

   At which point I became aware of a…. hunger emanating from all around us. Grabbing Alys’s attention, she could see a large amount of movement out in the jungle outside the shuttle. Not wanting to find out what it was, we gathered everything we could of use and abandoned the shuttle. Various slug like creatures appeared that then proceeded to eat most of the plastics and other organic components on the shuttle while leaving gouges in the metal. This close, I could feel the very plants around me slowly draining my strength. It was a lot like the technique that predator we caught used except a lot less focused and every living thing here seemed to be doing it.

   Not good.

   It got worse when the things tried to eat the shuttles fusion plant. They barely got out of range of the blast in time.

   Back in deep space, Ben swore… without a good look at the vector Kira and Alys had been on at the moment they jumped, he couldn’t even GUESS where they might wind up! Worse, he didn’t have time to calculate a decent course of his own! Much less one back to their base! The Admiral was already recalling the fighters, and they didn’t dare answer questions…

   He settled for what he could manage at high speed – a reasonably safe jump to an open cluster not too far away that should be easy to lay in a new course from. Fortunately, on hyperdrive backups, the Star Destroyer couldn’t have gotten TOO far – at least as of yet – so there were several approximations he could use… From there, navigating home was easy enough – but there really wasn’t any way to try and track where Kira and Alys and 10CH had wound up – if they’d wound up anywhere at all.

   Jacob, however, was most upset to realize that he didn’t HAVE a hyperdrive to use, even if he had a course – which left him with no alternative save to return to the Winter Moon, and to the reception committee waiting for him.

   He didn’t manage to resist the Admiral and the rest of the Sith for long. While they were too paranoid to entirely discount the theory that he might be powerful enough to mislead them all – or simply be raving mad – he did yield enough information for them to get a pretty good idea what was going on.

   Oddly enough, alternate universes were easier to believe than some of the people that the group had been encountering – Jacob not the least. Still, he had some potential, and was too confused to be a serious threat. They sent him back to class for some serious Sith training (which he promptly managed to mess up by tinkering with the training lightsabers and injuring an instructor with what would normally have been a suicidal attack). That led to a closer inspection – which led them to conclude that he was an Atavist – a rare type of force-sensitive attuned to drawing strength form primitive environments. It was no wonder that he’d preferred spending years in the jungle to rejoining civilization. At least that explained his obsessions… Still, Jacob was probably going to be useless to them. They put him into hibernation – readily overwhelimg his attempts to resist – to keep him from doing any more damage in the meantime while they waited for a possible future use to turn up. They could always get rid of him later, but he was at least a curiosity…

   It wasn’t good when even the Sith think that you’re hopelessly nuts.

   Meanwhile, back on a moon orbiting a gas giant which was FAR too close to a microdwarf star – even if it was the second planet in the system – things weren’t going well.

   I did what I could to suppress my Force presence like my training with Valerie taught me. That reduced the drain substantially, but I wasn’t going to be able to use my powers and I wasn’t going to be able to keep this up indefinitely – and it didn’t do a thing for Alys. 10CH’s announcement that the local biochemistry was toxic – or at least a lot less than nourishing – was no surprise, but certainly didn’t help matters either. By Alys’s estimates we had about two weeks worth of food and a similar amount of power cell life. We could probably stretch the latter using the portable fusion generator, but there wasn’t much to be done with the food situation. Best thing left to try was to take what parts we had and try to rig a transmitter to call for help.

   What followed was a veritable hell as we were continually on the run from our slow but tenacious pursuers. Fires helped somewhat – both as screens and diversions – but the oxygen-poor atmosphere, general dampness, and the prevalence of low-energy compounds in the local plants kind of limited that tactic. Eventually we were able to find a large rock outcropping in the middle of a river that provided some degree of shelter from the relentless chase. At first it was a relief to get some measure of rest, but then I found that actually being able to stop and think about the situation I was in was a problem in and of itself.

   Stepping back to look at the situation, unless something external came to our rescue, Alys and I were going to die here in the next few weeks. We either die of exhaustion and starvation, or finally get caught as one of these damned crawling trash heap creatures gets lucky. The transmitter idea just wasn’t going to work with the parts and tools we had. This led to the uncomfortable thought of how long do I bother holding out before finding a quick method to end it. I’m sure between my lightsaber, our blasters and 10CH’s weapons we could figure some relatively quick way out.

   It was also cold, damp, and everything was the same shades of red and black around here. Never mind the perpetual feelings of doom and hunger around me. I get the distinct impression that this may be what the worlds of the Faded must feel like and I am not sure I like the implications of that thought. I had hoped to learn the techniques of the Anti-Force/Codex in an effort to retain my sanity, but it’s looking like this is all yet another way to transform into a horrific monster. Instead of becoming a Sith, I’d become something even less than human.

   And then there is the disturbing revelation that my Valerie apparently had been displaying Codex speed techniques during her most recent assassinations. So in the amount of time between when my alternate was showing off and now, Valerie has been able to figure out where I’ve been, who I’ve talked to, and what I’ve been doing well enough to begin duplicating what I’ve learned. I just can’t seem to get ahead of her no matter what I do. And now she is in that alternate universe with my own alternate, probably getting advanced training as we speak. I can’t seem to win, only dodge until I am finally overwhelmed.

   Sorta like this damned planet.

   Meanwhile, back at their base, Ben and the rest had arrived to find Shipwreck happily involved in noting the locations of various derelict ships and other resources in the computer – and Hendell drunk as usual. There didn’t seem to be much point in blaming Shipwreck; he claimed to have been in some sort of trance – and really didn’t seem to remember exactly what had gone on. Handell had nursed the Asrai back with the minimum possible repairs because getting everything else fixed at the base would be way cheaper.

   Ben found himself compelled to forgive – and to try to understand – Shipwreck. He’d actually made progress in falling to the light side just when he didn’t want to!

   Unfortunately, waiting for Kira, Alys, and 10CH to turn up again got old fairly quickly – and the suspicion was rapidly growing that he wasn’t going to turn up again without help – and maybe not even with it. Still, they could hardly search the entire galaxy.

   After some discussion, they thought of something that was rarely relevant in the Star Wars galaxy – the speed of light delay… After plotting their initial jump backwards they had the rough location of the escape. If they got a really good telescope, and put Shipwreck to work with the sensors, they should be able to get some idea of what had been going on- and perhaps Shipwreck could still pick up some information at the scene.

   Between that, another one of Shipwreck’s divinatory trances, an assortment of force-probes, some precognition (which had some pretty ominous overtones), and Alternate Valerie’s weird powers, they kind of thought that they’d located the right vector. Unfortunately, it ran straight into a red microdwarf – a star so small that you might be well within the corona before being forced out of hyperspace.

   That wasn’t good – but the corona of a red microdwarf was thin and cool enough that it might actually be survivable. If it was though, it was unlikely that a shuttle would have come through in very good shape. If their friends were still alive, they’d be somewhere in the system – and there were only a few places where a human could live for very long. Two of the larger moons and one of the very small ones… Still, the surface area of the three was as much as a normal planet; it would take some time for even Shipwreck to scan.

   Maybe more time than they thought. The light from the rest of the galaxy was substantially blueshifted… That meant that this entire star system was in a pocket of slow time – and the three semi-inhabitable worlds seemed to be even slower. Perhaps 60% of normal.

   What the hell could be causing that? Were the local biospheres existing in slow time so as to effectively increase the amount of incoming energy? Was that possible? And would that be one of the reasons that the rest of the galaxy didn’t really pay any attention to systems like this? Telera said that the entire system was hungry – and draining – and slipped into a protective trance.

   Oh well. They couldn’t blame the life forms that lived around a star this weak for being hungry – and there was no time to speculate at the moment. They had a search to run.

   There turned out to be no trace of the shuttle. Scanning for lifesigns was near-impossible. Some weird property of the local vegetation seemed to suppress the usual signs of life… They tried visual signals – it was easy enough to tune the drive to generate a great deal of light and very little thrust, rather than a little light and a lot of thrust – while Shipwreck was running a series of scans for energy sources and, for the most part, finding nothing but occasional fires and volcanic activity. There was a lot of that; the tidal stresses of orbiting a gas giant pretty much guaranteed it.

   Down on the surface, Kira and Alys were both getting pretty despondent.

   The brooding wasn’t helping things at all and so I started taking a greater share of the patrols and watches to keep myself occupied. I had lost track of how many times I had circled this out cropping of rock when I stepped into a mossy mat and sank into it. Alys noticed my predicament and came to my rescue, but in the meantime my boot was stuck and being eaten away at by the fungus/moss/mulch or whatever this mess was. Undoing the straps, I removed my foot from the boot and grabbed onto the rope she lowered. She wasn’t having much luck pulling me up, and the whatever I was stuck in was reacting to my presence.

   Not much choice then but to do something stupid in an effort to buy a little time. Tapping into the Force, I tried to leap up out of the fissure and back onto solid ground. Unfortunately, I could sense just about everything around me react to that as pretty much all the power I had drawn was sucked out of me. It was only because of some extra boost of power I got from somewhere that I was able to complete the jump at all. Alys reeled me in as my jump went wild and I nearly fell into the river.

   At which point we all became aware of the fact that just about every living thing for several miles was now wanting a taste of me. Suppressing my powers once again and running as fast as we could, we barely stayed ahead of the amassing horde. Finding a moments respite upon another rocky outcropping, Alys noticed a blinking light in the night sky. Looking at it myself, I could see that whatever it was, it was visibly moving against the starry background and that meant it was likely in orbit.

   My commlink didn’t have the power to reach something in orbit, and we still hadn’t gotten the transmitter working either. We needed some way to signal our presence and fast. It was Alys who thought to detonate the portable fusion generator. That made a lovely explosion, but also drew in even more of these damned creatures to the heat and light. Evading that was becoming increasingly difficult when suddenly I saw the Asrai pull over the trees above us.

   In space, they’d been having trouble with Shipwreck. It looked like he was rapidly slipping into an addiction to information, sensor systems, and cosmic trances, and was having a hard time staying focused on local scans. It took them a moment to get his report on energy signatures – but one that just flared up? Only a couple of minutes after they started signaling? The odds of there being a connection were pretty high. They took the Asrai down towards the site.

   It looked like whoever was piloting was hesitant to land through the trees, and I didn’t blame them. At first they tried to make a clearing by using the blasters to clear a field, but that just ended up attracting more creatures. That led to more dodging and swearing, but it looked like the Asrai picked up on the problem as they started shifting strategies to lure the creatures away while herding us to another clearing.

   Finally just when I thought my legs were going to give out, we came upon a fairly dead patch of terrain as the Asrai hovered in the air and opened the cargo bay doors. A rope was lowered to the ground and Alys, 10CH and I ran forward and grabbed on. Lazlo pulled us up into the ship as Handell took us to orbit and away from this forsaken hell. We found Telera in a deep trance in one of the quarters aboard in a deep trance. Apparently her lack of training in suppressing her Force ability had made being around that planet very hard on her. Score one for the assassin training then.

   Alys and I loaded up on food and rest while we returned to the Base. It was taking me a while to recover from that and I am Force trained, I couldn’t imagine what that must be like normally. Taking stock of the situation, it looked like everyone got out of Sith custody save for the leaves guy named Jacob. Well it wasn’t like I knew him for more than a day, but knowing my luck he knew enough about us to be dangerous in the hands of the Sith.

   Valerie cornered me shortly after one of my cat naps and proceeded to unload on me.

(Valerie) Of all the stupid and idiotic things to have done. Why the hell did you jump to hyperspace without a course?!

(Kira) Like I had much of a choice at the time. It was either that or get captured AGAIN and be interrogated by Morrowain.

(Valerie) At least you wouldn’t be dead, we could have mounted a rescue.

(Kira) You forget, your father isn’t a former pastry chef here. He’s a Sith Lord, my master, and is going to be most upset when he finds out you’re not his daughter.

(Valerie) Oh, and death via hyperspace accident is preferable to my father?

(Kira) Well, I figured it would be a quick death if I was unlucky, unlike what I would get from him. How was I supposed to know I would end up on the world of vampiric space slugs and moss?

   With that she slapped me and stormed off. Damned if I understand her. I mean, it is not like I am her fiancee, he’s safely with the other Valerie in his universe and I doubt she’ll kill him. Besides, it’s Ben, Handell, and Shipwreck she needs to figure out how to get there, not me. I’m just along for the ride at this point in the process.

   Back with the Varen Council, the discussion had come down to some fairly simple propositions. They wanted Valerie back, yes – but if there were other worlds, and powers beyond what they knew, they wanted access to them as well – although that desire was tempered with caution; if those powers somehow caused whoever used them to self-destruct, they’d gladly leave them to Kira… Still, they’d need a channel of communication – and there was one possibility available. Kira seemed to be – for some incomprehensible reason – loyal to the random people who fell into his life.

   And they had one of them who was otherwise useless. He might as well be a messenger for them.

   We got a message from Jacob shortly thereafter. Handell went to pick him up and when they got back to base, Jacob announced he had a message for me from the Sith. Apparently the Sith had prevented his escape, learned what they could, and then used him as a disposable messenger boy. I took the datapad and watched the recordings.

   First was a message from Morrowain wanting to discuss terms of truce to arrange the return of Valerie from the alternate universe. Apparently Jacob had let the cat out of the bag. If we cooperated and returned Valerie, then the bounty on my head would be lowered substantially. Failing to comply would result in a substantial increase to my bounty. Damn it all, the bounty was becoming a serious pain already with half the bounty hunters in the galaxy now chasing my hide. If they increase it much more, then the remaining half will join in on the fun. Hell, I wouldn’t put it past the Republic to turn me in just to deprive the Sith of that much cash.

   Second recording was from the Soungs. Master Soung was clearly very unhappy with me and was threatening all sorts of imaginative tortures should he get his hands on me. Lessa announced a prophecy saying I stood at a crossroads facing damnation or salvation depending on what path I choose, while making it very clear she thought damnation was in store if I didn’t return Valerie. Virstris was surprisingly calm. She made her own offers to ensure the truce was fair if I cooperated. She even said to say hi to her alternate sister or clone or whatever this Valerie might be. There are days I wonder about that one.

   I handed the datapad to Valerie to watch as I said “The family says hi” to her. I left her to watch it in peace as I went to the galley to grab something to eat and gather my thoughts.

   It was clear I had to get Valerie back. I was planning to do that anyway, but this just added pressure to that resolution. I had hoped to hold off long enough that we could ensure overpowering Valerie when we got there. Suddenly overpowering her has become the least of my worries compared to just getting her back in a timely fashion.

   Best to start writing out my response back to Morrowain then. Responding to the Soungs isn’t going to be productive I think save to promise to return Valerie.

   Great. Our top priority was now going to rescue one of the most deadly Sith in the galaxy, in hopes of a quasi-reward from people who we cannot trust – and all we have to base that rescue on is a few untested theories about paratemporal dimensions and a possible set of one-way coordinates.

   Out in the galaxy, the word was beginning to get around that Kira and his friends were associating with the most notorious assassin in the galaxy. This was not helping things that much, although it did scare off some of the lower-grade bounty hunters. Of course, the Adventures of Kira the Kat were already giving everyone some really warped ideas about their activities anyway.