Explaining that they were from another universe went over much better in the Codifier Galaxy. They were used to people dropping out of their universe – and, logically, they had to drop in somewhere – but it was rare for them to take a ship along. The obvious consequence was that most such voyagers arrived in deep space with no protection or (if they managed to avoid that) that they exhausted whatever ability to “steer” they might have arriving somewhere habitable, and thus wound up in utterly alien universes.
The notion that someone might be insane enough to make the jump on purpose – even if they claimed that this mysterious mystical “force” and some bizarre set of “coordinates” allowed them to steer somewhat – was harder to put over.
I saw our Valerie’s face pop on the screen. It was obvious from the look on her face that she had been expecting us.
(Valerie) So why have you come here Kira?
(Kira) Your father sent me to fetch you.
That was vague enough to avoid giving too much away while still being true.
(Valerie) And how was he able to manage that?
(Kira) Something about how he would send the remaining half of the galaxies bounty hunters against me should I not return you in a timely fashion.
(Valerie) And how did he pick up that this woman wasn’t me so quickly?
(Kira) He-Who-Wears-Leaves (Jacob) spilled the beans when he failed to escape Morrowain in a timely fashion like the rest of us.
That got the strangest look from her I’ve ever seen.
At which point Ben piped in with his explanation of catching ourselves, escaping, designing superweapons to destroy a galaxy, getting threatened by the Sith, running from the bounty hunters, more superweapons to save a galaxy, and general chaos involving other dimensions. Almost all of that would have been nicer to have kept quiet about a little longer, but I found myself arguing with Ben repeatedly over that damned superweapon obsession of his. Well, on the plus side, almost all of that she was going to be able to derive anyway once she got back home, or was irrelevant anyway.
Ben sighed. Had they really reached the point where “Don’t blame me, it was my evil twin who made this plan” actually sounded REASONABLE?
Besides… It wasn’t just superweapons! It was just that pretty much any genuinely major engineering project could be used to do a LOT of different things, and – while quite a lot of those things WOULD be destructive – there were lots of other uses for the principles involved! You could do such a lot of USEFUL (or simply unique or novel!) things when you were working on the “superweapon” scale!
Meanwhile, Lazlo was considering. He had a scattering of memories from Lazar, as well as a fair understanding of the clone transfer technique (and several other dark side techniques) that he’d acquired from his resonance with him – but how had Lazar come into existence? He’d been bio-engineered as a bodyguard – and it seemed that the Universe-7 local Sith had bio-engineered an almost identical version of himself and – somehow – given it a lost technique and turned it into a monster. Just how unlikely was that? What principle was controlling what universes they arrived in? Was it just so sensitive that passing thoughts, fantasies, and speculations were enough to drop you into similar universes, or was it that the Codifier cosmos was so close in dimensional terms that the intervening universes were merely variants on their own?
No, that wouldn’t be enough; there would be PLENTY of close variants on their own universe that wouldn’t have Ben, Kira, Alys, and himself in important positions and right in the area to get involved with! If this kept up… would they eventually stumble into a composite daydream – or a distillation of all their nightmares? There had to be a reason why dimensional travel was virtually unknown!
Oh well. He had enough to do getting his head straightened out at the moment.
Had the thought that “Kira’s killed us all!” sufficed to dump them into that bizarre universe? Were he and Alys the only near-sane people in the group?
Eventually the authorities determined that we were telling the truth and escorted us in for a landing. From orbit it was easy to see the planet wasn’t very well-developed at all. Jacob started complaining about how over developed the planet was, but the rest of us ignored him. He went off like that about anywhere that WASN’T a primordial jungle. It was determined that we would meet Akira and Valerie in a nearby field where it would be harder to ambush each other. We saw them and Alliance officials waiting for us as we landed. A-Valerie ran out the cargo ramp as it opened and hugged Akira.
I had to admit that was a weird sight to watch. It only got weirder and more awkward when I noticed Valerie was watching them and then looking at me.
(Kira) This is awkward on many levels.
(Valerie) Perhaps. I have verified that your alternate has a good start on his Force training.
(Kira) Hopefully you didn’t make him fall to the Dark Side. I’ve already had to kill one insane alternate of myself already and I don’t want to do that again. Besides, I think she would be upset with you.
(Valerie) I’m sorry to hear that. He shouldn’t have any issues as long as he doesn’t deviate from the training regimen I have set up.
(Kira) So why are you different?
(Valerie) In what way?
(Kira) The Baramour, the Glaives, the Holosith, and the insane alternate of mine all conform to some standard stereotypes regarding Sith. You don’t. I want to know why.
(Valerie) You clearly didn’t pay attention during your training.
(Kira) Well excuse me if I tune out the moment I hear the “I am the One True Sith” speech. Seriously, if my homeworld had a credit for every time some Sith spouted that nonsense, then the Republic wouldn’t need to collect taxes anymore.
(Valerie) You’re exaggerating.
(Kira) And you’re evading the question.
(Valerie) We emphasize control even in the midst of overwhelming emotion. Those able to maintain cold rationality have a place among us Varen.
(Kira) Can’t be many that manage that, the Academy is proof of that.
(Valerie) The Academy is… a compromise of sorts. Some practices there are a result of demands from the other Sith factions.
(Kira) I am not going down that path.
(Valerie) So it would appear. Your counterpart was quite enlightening there.
(Kira) Damn him.
We saw our counterparts comparing lightsabers at that moment. Thankfully neither of them tapped into their Force abilities; otherwise we’d have had some real problems with resonance at this short range.
(Kira) They certainly seem happy together.
(Valerie) Indeed they do.
She then gave me a strange look that was impossible to read. About all I could get passively was that she had multiple schemes in mind but no further details. Just what was she planning?
The other party members went off to pursue their own arcane projects. This thankfully got them all away from Valerie, our counterparts and I as the arguments started up. First was the accusation from my counterpart that I started this whole mess experimenting with things I didn’t understand. My reply of how was I supposed to know it would swap counterparts was lost on him. Blaming him for swapping the Valerie’s and making this whole mess even more complicated resulted in A-Valerie and Valerie coming to his defense. Then I got to watch the two of them go at it verbally.
Finally the arguing and bickering stopped for a bit. I handed over the glue tree cutting and explained that they could use that to eventually find their way to our galaxy if they so chose. After explaining the need to plant that thing somewhere isolated, they agreed to take it and plant it. Although I could tell they were leery of it.
It also didn’t help matters that Valerie kept giving me measuring glances like she was sizing me up whenever she thought I wasn’t looking. I couldn’t tell if she was measuring the odds of ambushing me and making a break for the ship, or if she had some other motive in mind.
(Kira) Do you mind?
(Valerie) So why are half the bounty hunters in the galaxy after you?
(Kira) Because someone thought it cute to show off a bunch of legendary powers in front of an audience.
Valerie then gave my counterpart a dirty look.
(Akira) Me? How was I supposed to know that those techniques would cause such a commotion?
(Kira) Never heard of discretion then I take it? Especially since you knew I couldn’t do those techniques.
(Akira) Remember this is your fault to begin with.
(Valerie) Do not start this argument again.
(Kira) Look if we are going to establish two way communication and trade, then we are going to need to get someone from here to act as a guide back. Preferably someone Force sensitive that we can readily train.
(Akira) You want more training I take it?
(Kira) And I have access to production facilities you’ve only dreamed of. Whether or not you win this war, you have to realize you are slowly losing in the long run.
(A-Valerie) He’s right.
(Kira) Besides, you need Force training a lot more than my galaxy needs Codex training.
(A-Valerie) So we need to find some Force sensitives for you to take with you then.
(Valerie) That should not be a problem. I have already been training a half-dozen students in the arts.
I face palmed at that statement. The look on my counterpart’s face showed he was just as surprised as we were. Now we have to worry about little Sith time bombs here too.
(Kira) And you didn’t watch her?
(Akira) And how was I supposed to know that she would secretly train students?
(Kira) I guess Sith assassin doesn’t mean anything to you? Where did you find so many? Been sneaking off world for a night on the town recruiting?
(Valerie) It’s simple really, the percentage of sensitives in this galaxy is substantially higher than back home.
(Kira) Well that’s easy to explain, you don’t have Jedi and Sith skimming off the top around here.
(A-Valerie) Or being sensitive increases the likelihood that you’ll be born in a galaxy with Faded running amuck.
That made my blood run cold. I had heard Ben make grumblings about the damage being done to this galaxy but figured some stars weren’t likely to be missed. But if the Faded were having such an effect that children were having a harder time being born then the desperation of the situation here wasn’t good. We really needed to get back to our galaxy and start sending supplies as soon as we could.
Sadly leaving at that time was not going to happen. Handell had gone bar hopping, Ben was having the local hyperspace specialists tear apart our hyperdrive, Lazlo had his fighter torn apart, and Alys was nowhere to be found. It’s like herding cats, stop for even a moment and they all either run off or start making themselves at home. No choice then but to wait until they all returned or finished their little projects. That looked like it was going to be a couple of days though.
Handell had indeed gone in search of more booze, minor trade goods (such as a collection of local historical novels that he could republish at home as fantasies), female companionship, and a good time. Data was light, easy to transport, and could be quite valuable – and they didn’t have a lot of room.
Jacob was testing… If he was indeed an “Atavist”, and could draw strength from a powerful local biosphere, did that mean that his force attunement to his home universe would be exceptionally powerful? Could he attune himself to the local biosphere? It might be natural enough to support that sort of thing.
As it turned out, he COULD attune himself to the local biosphere – but it felt a little weird. Like he’d… let go of an anchor or a support he hadn’t realized the was holding. Had he released a bond with Kashyyyk to attune himself that way? Or had he renounced citizenship in his entire home universe?
Besides… now that he was attuned to it, it felt like the local planet was… nervous? Apprehensive? Perhaps a little ill?
Was that what Faders did to a universe? Or were they on their way?
Ben had been researching more about the Codifiers and Faders. It was pretty obvious that Force-users strengthened the universe. Codifiers who managed to maintain their balance were neutral at best – presuming they mostly focused their powers on themselves and took care to build up their bonds with the universe as quickly as they weakened them. Faders… Faders obviously weakened the universe. Did that mean that bits of it – or possibly entire planetary systems – just drifted off to join other universes? Did stars just join their galaxy? It would explain why the safe hyperspace routes kept changing, and why there were always new systems around.
How much had this universe decayed already? How close was it to that empty cosmos that they’d thought might be it’s ultimate future?
Anyway, the path to Fading could start very small. Every time you wished that something didn’t exist, or that you didn’t have to deal with it, or tried to eliminate or suppress something, you drifted a little closer towards denying parts of the cosmos – and the destructive madness of the Faded.
The local hyperspace experts probably hadn’t been tampered with though, so at least he could consult with them.
The local engineers understood the universe-jumping drive modification fairly well; they just knew of no method of steering save the usual method of adjusting the hypredrive control inputs (which was why you had to set your course in advance when making a jump). Without a far more precise method than that, even the most precise course wouldn’t take you to the same cosmos one time in a hundred billion. Precision at that level simply wasn’t possible by physical means – and they didn’t have the force to draw upon. Still, they did have spare parts and coils,
Alys was checking the local markets. It looked like the shipping capacity was relatively small. The locals had few ships to begin with – and it looked like they lost them at two or three times the rate of their galaxy. What was worse, their oldest historical rates looked a lot more like the rate at home – and the curve was increasing at a semi-exponential rate. Within a few centuries, interstellar trade might no longer be practical…
Were the activities of the Faded actually damaging hyperspace? Would the breakdown become irreversible at some point, or was it already past that point? The way in which the figures showed it increasing were pretty ominous. It looked like the Faded were actually quite a bit worse than the Sith.
Wonderful. They’d found an even bigger menace than the Sith. Just what they needed.
She managed to pry a few of Ben’s extra spare parts away from him for use as trade goods with that information. After all, he had enough along to build most of another ship or two, at least if they had something to use for hull plating.
Lazlo, meanwhile, was cashing in… At the moment, price was no object – the loot from Lazar’s secret cloning facility was pretty good – and the locals were pretty good at miniaturization, since smaller ships had a better chance of arriving safely (and it got better with more pilots). They didn’t have anything revolutionary – but a lot of the most expensive, miniature, top-quality systems were cheaper.
He spent several happy days upgrading his fighter. The end result would never have been practical for anyone who was worried about efficiency or value for cost, but it made sense for him. He didn’t have any bothersome accountants to worry about?
Telera spent most of her time trying to teach some sane techniques to Valerie’s students – and puzzling over why the girl appeared to have no objections. She considered staying; she had responsibilities back home, but would also be far more easily replaced there.
Khadim was not happy… The local planetary lifeforms didn’t seem happy either.
Meanwhile, back with Kira…
At first they (Alternate Valeria and Kira) offered to let everyone stay in the villa, but I was against it if only for the inevitable mishaps that would occur. It was eventually decided that Valerie would bunk in the Asrai, while A-Valerie returned to the villa. And that raised the awkwardness to a whole new level as I found myself wanting to treat her like A-Valerie and had to catch myself repeatedly. She caught on quickly enough though and cornered me in the galley.
(Valerie) I take it you were more trusting of her than me?
(Kira) Yeah, there is that. The whole Sith thing doesn’t help your case and forgive me if I am concerned about your motivations. I know you’re plotting something.
(Valerie) Well there isn’t much I can do to make you trust me if I wanted to.
(Kira) True, and I will admit you are in more control than the other Sith I’ve encountered.
(Valerie) That isn’t the only thing on your mind now is it?
(Kira) Ah you mean the pink rangkor in the room, as to what exactly is the difference between us and them?
(Valerie) He isn’t as much of an ass.
(Kira) And she isn’t a Sith.
(Valerie) Do you really think I would blow up a planet?
(Valerie) Then it is all about trust, you don’t entirely trust me, and I don’t trust that your experiments won’t kill you.
(Kira) And what does that have to do with anything? If I get myself killed, then that’s one less annoyance in your hair at the least.
(Valerie) It seems you still don’t realize it then. Maybe one day I will tell you.
(Kira) Tell me what?
With that she wandered off to her quarters. People and their damned secrets. I may have figured one of the most fundamental revelations about the nature of the Force in millennia and she tells me I am overlooking something that should be obvious. Nor has she ever come clean on how she learned Codex techniques before arriving here. I figured it was that she had learned what we were researching, where, from whom, and then ran her own experiments but she refused to comment when I asked. Which led to more knowing smiles and measuring glances whenever I saw her.
It was a long two days and I think she was enjoying it.
Finally Ben announced the hyperdrive was fixed and tuned better than ever. I wanted to ask if it would explode faster now, but held my tongue. Lazlo got his fighter loaded up after having the locals pimp his ride. Alys returned with a shopping list, which was totally backwards from how I understood going to the market to operate. Handell came back drunk, but I would have been shocked if he returned sober. Although the thought did occur to me that as drunk as he is, it might very well be his alternate climbing into the wrong ship and not realizing anything was wrong. Stranger things have happened I suppose.
It was eventually decided that we would take four of Valerie’s six students. The other two had families and splitting them up wasn’t exactly a smart move in my opinion. Hopefully Akira and A-Valerie would be able to keep an eye on them and oversee their training until I could send Jedi to assist. I did leave plenty of materials on warning signs of the Dark Side to familiarize themselves with. Telera considered staying but decided to stay with us to give a report to the Jedi Council.
As we loaded up for departure, Lazlo made the comment that he didn’t want to bring any Faded back to our galaxy. I couldn’t blame him – although I wasn’t sure that the Faded really were worse than Sith in the long run – but things got awkward when he wanted to be absolutely sure that we weren’t bringing the means for Faded to arise in our universe. Well, the only way to be sure at this point was to kill Valerie and I, which Ben promptly pointed out and made the situation even more uncomfortable. Thankfully this led to Lazlo asking Valerie if she could be discreet in the use of the Codex. Valerie’s response of does it count as discrete if there are no surviving witnesses caught him off guard and was a typical answer from her.
At least she isn’t going to be like my alternate and blatantly advertise legendary abilities. I’m already screwed.
Saying our goodbyes, we took off and prepared for a trans-temporal jump. We ended up walking Valerie through the technique to assist in steering the ship as a necessity, but Ben had to give away the coordinates to the Codifier galaxy for reasons I do not understand. Yes, the Varen seem to be better behaved than the Faded, but that does not mean we should open the damned floodgates for the Varen to storm the place. All the more reason to have the Jedi send help soon. And if I get the chance, I am going to send a Super Star Destroyer as a wedding present for those to in appreciation of all the trouble I put them through. I seriously doubt any other gift they got would top that.
With Valerie’s help, the steering was a lot easier. A-Valerie just isn’t quite up to parity yet, hell I wasn’t although it was clear to see that the gap had narrowed some. Actually, quite a bit more than I think I ever really realized. It’s only been two years though.
We finally exited hyperspace in the midst of a nebula. Handell was able to determine where we were in relation to a few subspace beacons though and plotted us a course. From what he, Ben, and Shipwreck were able to determine, we were inside a nebula in a star cluster orbiting the galaxy outside the galactic plane. Ben started to get excited about all the light from outside being bluish for reasons I didn’t really understand save that time was apparently moving slower here. We finally entered the galaxy proper again after some travel and had apparently lost a week in the whole expedition.
Now it was time to drop Valerie off somewhere but the question got to be where we could drop her off. The suggestion that we drop her off at the Academy with me claiming Alumni status and wanting to watch the game was more amusing than practical. Although I would have loved to have seen the look on Master Soung’s face if I had tried it. We couldn’t take her to Coruscant as her status as a Sith assassin wanted by the Republic would make things awkward. I could just imagine trying to bring her before the Jedi Council.
We finally decided to pick a fairly offbeat world and drop her off there after letting her family know to come pick her up. This led to calling the Soung’s over the network. Lessa Soung answered and was most pleased to hear from us. She quickly verified that this was in fact the correct Valerie and then the negotiations began on agreeing to a world to drop her off on and getting my bounty reduced. Once that was completed, Lessa announced that she knew sending Valerie to try to catch me would prove profitable.
Damn it, just who am I working for these days and did I ever really escape the Sith?
It didn’t help that Valerie seemed to get a kick out of it. We dropped her off on Reddrick as agreed, a small farming world out-of-the-way of most anyone or anything of note. Ben was reluctant to let her keep any of the students, but I didn’t want to have the inevitable fight that would come with that argument and we settled for two students with her and two with us. Last I saw of her she was still giving me that scheming and knowing look of hers. I don’t think I am done with her yet, not by a long shot.
We arrived around Coruscant later that week. The announcement of our survival to the Republic fleet didn’t go over nearly as well as I would have liked. I don’t like the idea that the thought of my death is more comforting than the thought of my being alive. And I supposedly work for these people.
Personal mail was sent over for everyone. Just about everyone got something except me. I had to admit feeling disappointed about that. Surely they didn’t believe me dead after I told them that the reports to follow were going to be bogus? Maybe the Jedi who took them into protective custody just aren’t letting any mail through or something.
Alys had a selection of more-or-less frantic messages from her family – mostly about the various news reports of her vanishing, chasing missiles that had been fired at a planetary surface, and similar eccentricities. She had a financial update or two from her investment firm, and assorted messages from friends and would-be friends.
Lazlo had a bunch of legal paperwork. He was considered a participant in a major lawsuit sponsored by the republic government (the department in charge of civil rights law enforcement) against the firm that had created him – and secondarily against the various buyers. Unauthorized genetic manipulation of a sapient species, genetic piracy, slave trading, and more. Criminal actions were underway as well.
He opted to participate in that.
Telera had her usual selection of missives from the Jedi hierarchy, including a sheet on what the Oracle Department – apparently a bunch of computers and technicians – had put together out of assorted reported dreams, visions, and prophecies this month.
The rest of them weren’t sure if that made perfect sense or was simply so insane that there was no way to even evaluate the number of ways in which it didn’t make any sense.
Ben mostly had technical stuff. Well, he didn’t really have any “family” who could reach him.
We landed on the planet after getting the Republic to not announce us by our real ID’s. Maybe the Republic can be made to manufacture us a new set if we are going to continue to be useful to them. If everyone is going to use me for their own ends, I might as well get something out of it. The Port Authority stopped us though, as they wanted to arrest Handell and Shipwreck over that debacle with antimatter missiles over Glasknecht. I was firmly of the opinion that Shipwreck needed to be committed, but kept my mouth shut.
We eventually got Handell off with the argument that he was at the controls of the ship and not the weapons at the time. Shipwreck was a harder case as he was a known weapons nut and been documented causing massive damage before. Frankly, I think the blame goes to my alternate self for being stupid enough to give Shipwreck the firing codes, but that wasn’t something I was going to tell the Port Authority. We left Shipwreck in their care; the explanation that he’d been in a trance at the time hadn’t gone over well – as we went off to see the Jedi again. Never thought I would actually see the Jedi Council personally, let alone twice.
The others held a brief, private discussion about that. Shipwreck was crazy, and shouldn’t be put at the weapons controls – particularly when he’d been trancing – but he was incredibly useful to have around. Besides, Shipwreck was a known master of sensor spoofs, and the “missiles” had just quietly vanished without any kind of explosion. Had he – in his trance – simply fired off some decoys and spoofed their precognition? Ben and Lazlo had seen Valerie and A-Kira skip out, but they hadn’t actually seen any missiles – and the “missiles” HAD lured the Sith Star Destroyer into position to he hit with a missile barrage while most of its shields were down.
If that kind of argument wouldn’t fly – and it certainly seemed sound enough – then should they try for a rescue? Or (someone actually proposed) ask the Sith to do them a favor and rescue some of their party members from the Republic courts? However unbelievably embarrassing that would be?
The receptionist at the front desk of the Temple recognized us immediately. Lazlo was lectured on why the clone transfer routine was a really bad idea, whereas I was informed it was a good thing I hadn’t fallen yet. These people can’t seem to give a good compliment to save their lives. When asked what our business was, we told her we wanted to see the Council to discuss some matters we had been in touch with. With that, she told us to head right in as the Council was expecting us. At least we didn’t have to wait a day or two like last time. I just wasn’t sure how I felt about being expected.
Actually the Jedi were mostly asking that Kira refrain from the insane rumor-mongering. There was enough trouble with misinformation and panic now; they really didn’t need “Sith Interviews” and stories about “living death asteroids” circulating. Besides, Kira and company didn’t need even MORE attention!
In the Council Chambers, we handed over the two students for the Jedi to train as Ben went over explaining the existence of alternate dimensions/timelines/galaxies or whatever you want to call them. The Jedi weren’t as skeptical as I would have thought, but still were not entirely buying the sanity of the idea of two-way travel. This led to more discussions theory discussions with Ben that nearly put me to sleep.
Ben had given the Jedi a more-or-less complete report – designs and notes on the trans-temporal hyperdrive and tunnel, his notes on training to aim the tunnels and drives, the logs of the probe-droids trips with full notes on the damage incurred and some speculation on what was seen, the history of the Codifier galaxy as presented by A-Valerie and A-Kira, the sensor logs from their premature stop and some explanations thereof, notes on the repairs done to hyperdrive during the trip with pictures of the working coils, and some notes on his “wishgranting” theory of transtemporal travel.
His package for the military included the designs and notes on the technology, notes on why you had to have force users to steer, logs of the probe-droids trips (leaving out the codifier precurser, the actual second successful attempt at opening a tunnel there, and the modified hyperdrive course), the sensor logs of the flight to and from Codifier galaxy (including the brief description of the Life Star), notes on the emergency repairs and the drive conversion, and a brief description of back doors that could be added to starships for emergency evacuation. He intentionally left out the social details, such as the Codifier history, as well as the actual revised course to the Codifier galaxy. He even threw in his notes on how he thought the beacon-system killer superweapon might have worked, even if it was only a concept.
That really should cover most of the important technical details if something should happen to them.
Finally I was asked to explain the legendary powers I had been documented as using. First I told them that it was not me that did those stunts, but my alternate self. Then I proceeded to tell them I had nevertheless received training on those techniques much like he had. Ben and I then went into a full explanation of what we thought that the Force and the Codex/Anti-Force were. We also explained why the techniques were so legendary and dangerous for Force users to use, as you needed to be really, really good to get the Force to do something opposite to the nature of the Force.
The Council was quick to lump this into the category of dangerous experimental techniques likely to make people self-destruct. I rebutted that this wasn’t the case so long as proper training was available, much like how Force powers were exceedingly dangerous unless trained. This didn’t get much of anywhere though. I did get fed up enough to demonstrate the hyperspeed technique in the council chambers just to prove a point. While that impressed them, it still didn’t seem to get the point across that I wanted.
With that discussion not going anywhere, the Jedi announced they had a mission for me. Well, I had been wondering for some time when this shoe would drop. It turns out that Darth Zandaras was really making a mess of the Republic war effort. Ships would disappear in hyperspace accidents, planetary shields would collapse at the wrong times, more suicidal freighters loaded with explosives, and a whole host of other problems like being able to turn almost anyone into a traitor quite quickly. He was now even documented as killing other Sith who disagreed with him and stealing their Force powers.
Damn it all.
Actually the Jedi simply gave them a situation briefing, and the information that – as far as they could see with their precognition – the best odds for a good outcome for the Republic lay with the group coming into conflict with Zandaras if they were willing to do so. Kira still considered that blackmail – with the pressure being provided by their own consciences while the Jedi pretended that they were just providing information – but the others weren’t so sure. There was the speculation that, if Zandaras killed Kira and absorbed his Codex powers, they’d prove lethal when combined with the uncontrollable power of the Dark Side – but that was a thought that it was hard to avoid if you thought those powers were inherently suicidal to use.
Handing over what information we had on the bioweapon body, we were able to explain why Darth Zandaras was proving so hard to kill. We also were able to explain why he was able to steal Force powers if he really was a collective of Force ghosts. That list of abilities the Arethi Welhem was able to derive from our notes was disconcerting to say the least. Whoever designed that bioweapon was both a genius and insane. Personally, I think the suicidal pilots and turning anyone traitor was due to Zandaras implanting pieces of himself into his victims to turn them into zombie like operatives. Yet another holo staple that I wish had stayed in the holos.
Welhem and Ben had discussed the bioweapon… The combination of the furripedes bio-engineered living silicon circuitry with an adaptive bacta matrix and a computer consciousness seemed likely to allow the thing to repair itself with remarkable speed, to duplicate pretty much any kind of device on the fly, and to be extremely fast, strong, and tough – at least as long as it had access to enough electrical power or (less effectively) electromagnetic energy to absorb. It should have a fair amount of power and data storage, and smaller bits of the thing could carry limited programs and – thanks to the bacta base – interact with other creatures tissues. That might explain the “turning traitor” bit by the implantation of bits of it’s own tissue as programmable neural parasites.
The Jedi felt the best outcome for the Republic was for a collision between the group and Darth Zandaras. The Republic was being pushed hard; the Sith might actually win the war at this rate, and the group had a proven record of fouling up Sith plans wherever they encountered them. If they didn’t want to go after Zandaras, however, they would probably make a difference wherever they went.
Alys sighed. The Republic badly needed additional resources – and Shipwreck had apparently found out where there were multiple derelict fleets. She was beginning to HATE precognition. It made it impossible to know WHO was manipulating events, or what they were up to! Half of the PRECOGNITIVES didn’t even seem to know what they were doing, they just took blind actions that their precognition told them gave them the best odds!
Right, I think I know exactly where I was told to shove myself.
When I explained that I didn’t think it smart for the person displaying legendary powers to be confronting the Sith who was absorbing people’s souls, all I got was that they had foreseen that the result was likely to be beneficial for the Republic in the long run, and better than most of the alternatives.
Could these idiots on the Jedi council actually be THAT reliant on precognition? Had they simply deep-spaced their ability to actually think?
10CH’s statement that the Jedi Council had probably anticipated that possibility and felt that it would likely result in an explosion big enough to kill Zandaras was not amusing. Great, the big plan was to take the trouble-magnet, have him eaten by the big bad, and then give the big bad enough indigestion that he explodes. Either the Jedi can’t be bothered to fight this guy, or this literally is the best they could come up with. Someone should teach these people what a few hundred thermal detonators can do to mighty Force users.
Fine, since this is more or less my fault, I’ll do what I can. But I don’t plan on being eaten. In return, I requested the Jedi help me in getting regular communication and trade going with the Codifier galaxy as the Codifiers could use the help and we needed the expertise in the Codex. The Jedi seemed agreeable for the most part on that request. Maybe with their help, we could even see about finding the Furipede home galaxy. Right now, I just wanted to help my counterpart and his fiancee and see to getting a Codifier here to help my training.
Ben started talking about blowing holes in the universe while I explained to the Jedi that the Republic likely had Codex users at its disposal if the Sith got too close to winning. The effects of these Codifier/Faded precursors on the galaxy could not really be overstated and it was best if the Jedi were at least prepared for that possibility. Especially if the Republic was being pressed hard enough to start getting really desperate in about six months. The Jedi seemed hesitant to believe that a group of Codex users could have been hiding from them this whole time, so I felt the need to demonstrate just how readily I could go invisible to their senses. That at least got their attention.
Finally, after all that was said and discussed, I got the chance to ask the question I didn’t want to hear the answer to. I asked the Jedi Council where my family was. The look of confusion on their faces made my heart sink. Tossing them the Republic report stating that the Jedi had taken them into protective custody, I demanded an explanation. Unfortunately, none was coming save promises to run an investigation into the matter if it didn’t just turn out to be another “filed in the yearly reports” thing. At least this confirms that the Jedi aren’t holding them hostage in case I don’t go after Zandaras.
Unfortunately this also meant I was a fool for trusting the Republic or the Jedi to keep an eye on them in my absence. I am seriously tempted to tell the Jedi to stuff their mission as I go hunting for those dear to me and to hell with the consequences. About the only thing restraining me from doing that and actually listening to the Jedi was the memory of Dkira and his fall.
The general vote from most of the others was that Zandaras was a priority – although they also wanted the Jedi to help them get into regular contact with the Codifier galaxy, and to send the Codifiers a few force trainers, and to get into contact with the Furripede galaxy if it could be located.
They could just default to their usual “plan” of course; sneak in, let Ben engineer something quite insane, run around causing chaos, confront someone, and then let the situation go up in a fireball as they ran around looking for an escape route – but perhaps something more sophisticated was in order this time around.
They also wondered why the Sith kept building Super Star Destroyers instead of the many smaller ships you could build for that budget… Was it a desire to centralize? Simply because they lacked the support of the population, and so needed their entire war machine mobile? Were they just symbols of power being built for psychological effect? Should they try to ally with the Sith, against the Bioweapon Sith, to prevent the Republic from unleashing their secret reserve of Galaxy-Destroying Fader Precursors?
Finally, Lazlo decided to simply bail out Shipwreck and Handell. It wasn’t like he didn’t have plenty of cash at the moment. His initial estimate on the value of his haul had been under by 60% or so…