After Handell completed a short jump away from the galactic Core, we found ourselves outside the high energy radiation zone… Strange, such a short jump shouldn’t have brought us outside the radiation zone if the entire galactic Core was saturated with it. A couple of more jumps and we began to pick up subspace transmissions from a nearby world – mostly in-system traffic and mechanical attempts to make contact outside the system. That was pretty odd. According to what alternate-Alys remembered, that shouldn’t be there either.
Shipwreck fired up his sensor pack and did weird things with the Force and – I am beginning to suspect – with the Codex as well. It looked like we had arrived in the nebula remnant of a supernova and that the galaxy wasn’t saturated with radiation, or at least not much more than usual. A couple of the worlds we’d come nearest to could even be picked up transmitting on subspace and hyperspace, but there was no signs of the subspace and hyperspace relay networks or the navigational beacons.
Wait a minute.
I understand now, we ended up in the universe this Alys was from originally and not the one she entered ours from. This is the one Darth Ben presumably snatched the networks from. Eh, it was already clear that things were now quite a mess here. I figured the odds of a coherent galactic civilization reforming taking a couple centuries at the very least with another millennia or two to completely recover. Provided the Sith don’t get too strong a foot hold in the meantime. This is one of the reasons I hate super weapons.
Alys was very pleased. This meant that Ben’s theory was right; Darth Ben had wiped out long range communications and travel – but the vast majority of the people were just fine. Her parents and siblings (not to mention the friends and relatives) might be just fine as well if Coruscant hadn’t collapsed with the loss of interstellar travel. Even if she wound up back in the “Destroyed Galaxy” again, knowing that for sure would make the situation a lot more bearable.
Ben was calculating… Hm. Presuming that the locals still had their records – and they should – if they skipped past the uninhabited zones and settling for dropping beacons on the routes that they KNEW were good, they should be able to have a minimal network up and running in a mere… two or three centuries. The galaxy was large, ranges were relatively short, and it took a LOT of beacons and relays to make even a skimpy grid. Drat. That would give the local Sith a couple of centuries to expand before they’d hit any effective opposition though – and a major advantage for several centuries after that. This galaxy was en route to a Sith Empire.
At the very least we needed to get to a world, regroup and plan how we are going to proceed. Handell took us very carefully via a series of micro-jumps to the nearest world we could detect broadcasting. I felt it best not to argue with the precognitive pilot to go faster regardless of my estimates of the odds of a problem.
Soon enough we ended up in orbit around a minor Republic world called Vorpos. While it was definitely a minor backwater in the grand scheme of things, and there wasn’t much of a fleet presence. The local defenses did pick us up, and gave us an automatic hail asking for identification – followed within seconds by an over-eager live communications officer who was apparently wildly excited at the prospect of news from the rest of the universe… We decided it was highly prudent to not let Ben answer the comm. As the others argued who should answer, I went ahead and answered it. Seriously, even if they have heard of the infamous Kira Keldav here, he can’t be any worse than the guy that just single-handedly destroyed galactic civilization.
The planetary official on the other end of the line obviously didn’t recognize me and seemed to be assuming I was a Jedi. He probably knew enough to assume that any visitors had to be using intuitive navigation techniques. Fair enough, I can work with that idea for the time being. When we were asked if we knew anything about what had happened, I explained Ben’s theory as best as I was able. That more or less confirmed what the locals thought – although we had a lot more technical details than they did. At first I was concerned they would pick up on that fact, but luckily they just seemed to assume we were well informed.
This led to a discussion regarding the nature of the transition of the grid from this universe to the one we picked Alys up from. The interesting fact we picked up on reviewing the facts was that the grid had been transitioned as a unit instead of scattered haphazardly across the galaxy. Ben seemed to get real excited about this for reasons that weren’t readily apparent to me, but I was more concerned about what that implied. There shouldn’t be any reason why the grid was transported as a unit intact in my mind. It was one thing with ships and people as they are contiguous chunks of reality, but the grid was anything but contiguous. So why was the relative distances between the relays kept?
Ben and Jacob were wondering too. Was it something to do with the fact that their transitions had a huge margin of error – but were always within the galaxy? Or was it just that the grid had been transferred in a single operation?
Ben nearly gave way to the temptation to get on the communications system and start quizzing the locals directly in search of more detailed information before he remembered that it might not be a good idea.
Not that it mattered – but the locals wanted advice (and perhaps a glimmer of hope). I didn’t see how to give it to them though; trying to rescue several trillion ten to a thousand ton relays and bringing them back here was going to be an enormous effort by most any measure. Lazlo’s suggestion of getting some droids to do it for us really had no grounding in reality. We just didn’t have the resources to send billions of drones across a galaxy collecting relay nodes – and (as Ben and Handell pointed out) drone ships had a nasty tendency to vanish anyway. Even if we did have a large cargo vessel to serve as transport between the two universes, the sheer scope of the problem was beyond our ability to affect. We might be able to rescue some of the larger and more powerful nodes that way, but that was a drop in the bucket compared to what was needed to rebuild. Even if we got the locals involved, it would be faster and more cost effective to have them more or less restart constructing the grid from scratch. At least they could use known safe (well, safer) routes and dead reckoning to get along until then.
Just as I was about to give up on the idea as a lost cause, Ben announced that it should be possible to bring the grid back in one piece, just like it was sent away. Asking for clarification, it turns out he thinks the weapon was still out there, could be reused, and could be adjusted to jump the relay system back to this galaxy – and that, as long as the relationships were preserved, the local could just apply a transform function and start re-organizing the grid, rather than rebuilding it. Of course, that meant either building a new super weapon – or stealing the original one.
Damn him to Hell.
I was trying to keep this to a rescue Alys and help the locals out mission and Ben keeps focusing on his damned super weapons. Not satisfied with my attempts to limit the scope of this journey, he now has managed to find an excuse for us to capture it. And he’s managed to do it in such a way to ensure I have no real choice but to help him retrieve his damned super weapon if I didn’t want to abandon these people. Damn him.
Then began the debate on where said super weapon might be located. I figured the smart thing to have done was pull it back into home territory where it might be better defended and not used against me. If they had dropped a series of relays on their way to the galactic Core, they might even have an easily navigable way back to their territory. I figured the best bet then was to look for the trail of network beacons and follow them back if they weren’t preemptively shut down to prevent such tracking.
Ben insisted though that the weapon would still be near the galactic black hole. Apparently Ben felt the potential need to destroy civilization (again) outweighed the danger of losing the weapon to the enemy. To me this sounded like lunacy, but for my plan to work we needed to head to the galactic black hole anyway to find the relay trail. I’m sure if Jarik was still here he would have been taking bets on who was right: Ben or me.
Ben was sure that he could guess what he would do… After all, with the navigation grid down, the near core would be virtually unapproachable. If anyone DID come to get you, you could use the superweapon to make them vanish as well – and he’d have been able to continue his research in the galaxies biggest space-time laboratory. How could he possibly have passed that up when the investment was so small?
Lazlo didn’t really see the point. This wasn’t their universe (and shouldn’t people be expected to take care of their own business to some extent?), and such a mission would put Handell at more risk. Still, no one ever listened to him anyway.
Handell wasn’t especially happy to hear that we wanted to go as close as we could to the galactic black hole without actually going inside it. Especially with no relay network to help provide fine tuning of the navigational coordinates. I can’t say that I blamed him, I didn’t want to go anywhere near the thing, but circumstances were conspiring against me on this one. Handell sat there with the navigation computer for one heck of a long time – and I could feel his precognition reach outwards and forwards in time far further then I could have managed. Trying to stay as out of the way as possible, I tapped into the Codex enough to neutralize my own Force presence and precognition to limit interference I was generating.
Finally Handell tapped out a course into the navigation computer and announced the jump to hyperspace. Strapping myself into the seat, I found myself gripping the arm rests tightly as we made the transition to hyperspace. A few hours later we dropped out of hyperspace after a few finishing-up microjumps and Handell declared success. Heading to the cockpit, I was treated to a rare sight. About a third of the starry background was blocked by a black nothingness that I can only presume was the black hole’s event horizon. I could see the enormous jets shooting out the poles and the accretion disk spiraling mass inwards to be devoured by the all consuming darkness. For something that supposedly consumed everything including light, this black hole certainly lit things up.
Ben was puzzled. He could see that matter was escaping from the accretion disk and that there was abnormal turbulence nearer the black hole. That could only happen if it had picked up an enormous amount of energy from somewhere – something on a scale that even most of his projects would have trouble supplying. Had an awful lot of matter just been tossed in, or had the superweapon really affected things on that kind of scale? That didn’t fit in entirely with his theory of a hyperfield generator powered by the jets.
Jacob was puzzled too. There were VERY strange disturbances going on here! Something quite profoundly unnatural had happened. Something that had disturbed the foundations of the universe – and even if it wasn’t HIS universe, that didn’t strike him as a very good idea!
Besides… he didn’t like that black hole a bit. It seemed like a hole in everything to him. And he really hoped that that wasn’t literal.
Heeding Telera’s warnings, I didn’t reach out to sense it with the Force. I’ve heard enough stories of people disappearing doing stupid stunts around a black hole to not try something like that. Still, I was able to perceive some things passively. I couldn’t really get my mind wrapped around just how massive the thing was beyond the fact that it dwarfed anything else I’ve seen. But what disturbed me more than anything was the sheer empty nothingness I felt coming from it. This wasn’t like what I felt from alternate Valerie when she negated her Force presence as this was a complete absence as opposed to a negation. The sensation of something being so massive and yet so empty was disconcerting to say the least. I hadn’t felt that kind of emptiness around even a dead star.
Ben tried his early-edition precognition trick – and found that he was mostly warning himself to have a dimensional tunnel effect ready to go if he was being sucked into a black hole, and not to launch a shuttle into it, and several other things NOT to try around black holes – but, at least, that meant that they’d likely be doing something around the black hole. (Wait, did that mean that hundreds of alternate future Bens had dies to get him this information?) That meant that the superweapon probably was here. He and Kira started trying to narrow down in which sector they were likely to find it – and managed to narrow the field a great deal.
After heading that way (very very cautiously), they did indeed find a few detectable navigation beacons – and decided to start scanning. If there were beacons, that meant that there might be a superweapon – or perhaps a Sith fleet – around somewhere. The radiation level was very very high – but their shields were good enough to let them stay there safely for quite awhile, and it helped mask their own small signature.
Shipwreck began his weird magic again with the ship’s sensors. If it wasn’t obvious already that he was heavily cheating somehow, then this proved it as I felt the Force did really weird and unnatural things around him as he proceeded to pull useful information from the sea of chaotic radiation noise that was all around us.
Much to my surprise and to Ben’s glee, after a search it looked like the super weapon was still here. It was in an unstable orbit around the black hole requiring continual thrust to maintain. At first I figured it was a sort of dead man’s switch to destroy should it get close to be taken over, but I was told the opposite was true. Should thrust be lost, the weapon would shoot off into deep space. Why they chose to keep it here for the last several months was lost on me. I would have thought it smarter to leave the area than to go through such ridiculous means to ensure safety.
Also surprising was how similar the weapon looked to the Zomogoostar. It was almost a spot on match for how the place looked before Jarik’s temporary change of management. It even had neutronium power systems in order to provide absolutely-reliable power for the engines under the continual drain it was being subjected to. Ben started excitedly talking about some sort of convergence principle trying to make all universes the same down to the personal level. Now that was utterly ridiculous in my opinion. We already had one universe where I was marrying Valerie and another where I died after becoming an evil holosith. Where was the convergence in that? Never mind the fact that it currently seems like I am on a completely different path than either Akira or Dkira and Valerie has her own schemes in play. Maybe a macroscopic convergence with lots of pieces reused over and over again, but I highly doubt something is trying to make all Kira’s the same.
Ben sighed a bit. Coincidences there would be, but that MUCH virtually-identical engineering resulting from completely different motives? SOMETHING had to be going on.
That orbit was going to make boarding the thing much harder to pull off. The Asrai only had sufficient power to pull a rendezvous for a minute or two. It didn’t have that much thrust, and would have to swing in and out on it’s own hyperbolic orbit, and that would only match for a few minutes before the weapon would pull away. In that time we either had to dock or board the base potentially while under fire. It didn’t help matters that we had seen a demonstration not too long ago on how neutronium systems could eat ships and asteroids. Ben felt it unlikely that the Asrai’s power systems could handle the strain of holding us near the weapon and power the hyperspace transporter system he built at the same time – not to mention that it would take hours that we didn’t have to tune. That meant we had to either board the old fashioned way or dock at one of the bays.
I briefly contemplated just throwing enough asteroids at the weapon until it became too heavy to maintain it’s orbit, but decided it was impractical. Especially since Ben was so intent on capturing it. Handell started us on an approach after deploying the stealth screens; they’d make the radiation problems worse – but we could handle that for a little while… Amazingly, nothing fired at us or tried to turn us into neutronium as we approached and docked in one of the unused landing bays. I guess the stealth system works better than I had anticipated or no one was watching the sensor scans very well.
Disembarking from the Asrai, we were approached by maintenance droids demanding to know who we were and why we had come onboard the asteroid. Ben proceeded to explain it as one of his experiments having successfully concluded which the droids bought (droids aren’t usually all that hard to fool), but the droids absolutely freaked when they saw Jacob. Some careful questioning revealed that apparently the local Ben was keeping an insane killing machine version of Jacob as a pet. Looking at Jacob, I suppose there wasn’t that much different as this one was an insane killing machine by my own estimates. Oh wait, the local one was a berserk insane killing machine.
As attempts to placate the droids were only partially effective, we diverted them with getting us a remote to disengage the docking clamps on the Asrai and told them to give the remote to Handell.
Jacob, wondering what had HAPPENED to the local “him” to turn him into a being that everyone else regarded with such horror tried reaching out to find himself and do a little probing. It should be safe enough with his counterpart in deep hibernation; the resonance effect shouldn’t be too bad if being in stasis stopped it entirely.
It wasn’t. His counterpart drew deeply on HIS life-force, and – through him – on all the lives around him, and exploded out of hibernation. Alarms started shrieking, orders were broadcast to set up all the containment systems, pull out the heavy weapons, and to take up defensive positions to try and contain Jacob – again. The droids went to lock themselves in a utility closet.
Given all the excitement to use for cover, we left the Asrai with Handell, Telera, 10CH, Welhem, and Khadim in the Asrai to hold he escape route (or be available as reinforcements) as we went off to try to take the base over. It didn’t take long before local security stumbled upon us and Lazlo and Ben proceeded to argue with the guards and order them around. Then one of the guards pointed to Jacob, screamed that he was loose from hibernation, and freaked.
Ben might have soothed that over with the “I’ve got this modified copy under control” routine, but one of the guards had turned in the alarm to the commander – and the bridge promptly opened an audiovisual communications link with the guards that Ben had been trying to order around. A few moments of confrontation with himself resulted in the guards getting orders to capture – or, if necessary, kill – these new intruders. With his counterpart now attempting to actively probe with HIS powers, Ben developed a splitting headache – and without the raw power of the Dark Side to back him, he was no match for his counterpart.
Damn it all.
Suppressing my Force signature as much as I could, I slid off into the shadows as Lazlo tried to stall the guards with nonsensical argument about what was going on. Just great. The Sith would know we were coming. Still, if they focused on the main group, maybe I could pull a Valerie and sneak up on them to take them out. Not being one to like suicidal situations, I took the opportunity of no one paying attention to me to phase through a wall. That was far easier than I expected it to be. Wait, alternate Valerie warned me about using Codex techniques in the presence of seriously warped space. It could make some tasks a lot easier to pull off but required more skill to keep from losing control. If I wasn’t careful, I could easily fall out of the cosmos more readily here. Damn that meant I had to be even more judicious in my use of Codex powers, one of my few real edges in combat.
Looking back on my companions I was struck by a nasty thought: was I leaving them to die? Hard to tell, but I certainly didn’t want to be caught in the situation I knew was coming when we absolutely needed to kill the Sith in charge. Wearing ourselves out fighting security and Jacob would make us easy pickings for the Sith. No choice then but to leave them to fight while I used the distraction to pull off a set of assassinations. Hopefully they can survive long enough for me to cut the head off the snake.
Wait… sneaking aboard the base, trying to get past the guards, a choice of dangerous routes to the bridge where a Sith commander was waiting, incredibly deadly force predator on the loose… DAMMIT! He’d just DONE THIS!
Back in the corridor, Lazlo’s attempt to resolve conflict through conversation had – in the face of a Sith commander yelling for the intruders heads – fallen through. Fortunately, they were in too close to use heavy weapons – and Lazlo and Ben (at least with his armor and shield generator) were capable of taking quite a few pistol shots while Alys took out the heavier weapons with trick shots. Unfortunately, Lazlo’s sheer strength convinced the guards that he was ANOTHER bioweapon – and led them to call for heavier backup.
Ben sighed. If enough of the guards got entangled with them, he could see what was going to happen. Either they’d lose – and get dragged before the Sith or killed by Jacob-the-death-machine when the guards no longer had the resources to hold him off, or they’d win with damage, reach the Sith, and be attacked from behind by Killer Jacob. Either way, a disaster. If he could bring the guards over to their side to deal with Killer Jacob though – and it was obvious that they were terrified of him – that might work.
He used his own powers to become a life force beacon – and could soon feel Killer Jacob heading their way.
I was now in one of the engineering tunnels I suspect the Furipedes back home called home. The place was not really meant for human access at all. Hearing the sounds of battle beginning, I decided I could risk using my Force senses to locate my prey and began to work my way through the tunnels. More often than not, I had to crawl or slide along than walk. Thankfully, the explosions, blaster fire, and irresponsible flinging around of Force techniques provided me with enough cover to use my own Force powers to hasten my approach.
Finally dropping out of an air vent into a hallway, I was certain I had set off numerous alarms in my little detour, but thankfully it seemed like everyone was too busy with the conflicting reports of intruders and escaped bioweapons to bother checking on something detected in the air vents and engineering tunnels. I could feel what felt like three Sith on the other side of the doorway. Not one to fight fair, especially when outnumbered, I pulled out one belt of thermal detonators and checked them over. Looked like the locking mechanism to prevent easy activation with telekinesis was working properly as I armed them and set the timer. All I had left to do was phase through the blast door, drop the belt and phase back through before anyone even realized I was here. Three easy kills for only a few dozen credits worth of explosives.
I phased just when the asteroid lurched in one direction and I kept going along the original trajectory. I went right through the blast door and saw that I was about to go right through the viewport window at a acceleration of twenty four gravities.
Back in the battle with the guards, while Kira had been working his way through the tunnels, Killer Jacob had indeed eventually put in an appearance – casually pushing a twenty-ton block of stone along ahead of himself as a shield and twirling a half-ton bar of structural metal he’d ripped out of something along the way in one hand. Ben got what he wanted – the guards dropped the fight with them and were more than willing to work as a group to hold off Killer Jacob – but looking at the creature he wasn’t sure that their combined efforts could!
The first few moments of THAT fight didn’t go well at all – even Lazlo and several guards working together couldn’t hold back that advancing boulder – and Ben frantically tried to use his precognition. He was a specialist in that, he ought to be able to see SOMETHING even past the force feedback from his counterpart. There had to be a way to deal with THIS universes force predator!
Unfortunately, that just got him entangled with Darth Ben up on the bridge again – and showed him nothing but visions of falling into the black hole.
Up on the bridge, Darth Ben gasped, reversed the drives, and started the hyperspace warmup. It might just be a false vision – but he wasn’t taking any chances on falling into the damned black hole!
It took two tenths of a second for the pseudogravity systems to reverse their pull. For a brief moment, everyone in the base was subject to the equivalent of a twenty-four gravity field – towards the front of the ship, the bridge, and the black hole.
Down in the corridor, it brought Killer-Jacobs boulder-shield and the guards and party “down” on top of him. That gave them a lot more injuries – but Jacob managed to use his own force powers to activate Ben and Alys’s stasis belts while they were falling. They came through all right – but Killer-Jacob drew massively on Jacobs life force, as well as on the injured guards, to heal his own injuries.
Killer Jacob was pre-empted by the local guard commander rolling thermal detonators past the boulder – but Lazlo – who’d been putting Jacob into stasis before he died (and letting Ben and Alys out) – made him stop before he could finish Killer-Jacob off. Lazlo thought there was too much danger of melting the rock – and of secondary injuries – before Killer-Jacob was dead.
Ben finally had an idea. If he could just avoid being flattened by that girder that kept thrusting past the rock long enough to get Killer-Jacob into stasis… Perhaps he could use the Variable Star to help hold the boulder back for long enough?
That nearly got all of them smashed into pulp, but they pulled it off – and the guards were willing to accept an “order” to dump Killer-Jacob out an air lock while he was in stasis. They could just claim confusion as to which Ben had issued the order later on. Alys had pretty well seized command of the guard contingent anyway.
Meanwhile, back with Kira…
Oh yeah right, not wanting to go into space even if I did have a breath mask and a stasis belt, and having only a few moments to react, I couldn’t see any way out of this. Suddenly I remembered Valerie telling me that inertial and gravitational mass were different. Slipping into hypertime and dropping the phasing, I found much to my surprise that my approach to the viewport was slowed significantly. Apparently she is right, gravity acts the same during hypertime, but inertia does not – or maybe it doesn’t if you don’t want it to. It was a simple matter to flip around and gently land feet first on the window.
Now wait a moment, when did I become able to think this clearly regarding physics? And why do I understand the fact that if I hadn’t stopped myself before I had gone through that window that I would be on an escape trajectory from the galactic black hole? Are my Codex and Force abilities actually increasing my ability to process this kind of information?
Looking down at the window I was standing on, I could see a worrisome spiderweb of cracks propagating out from my feet. Oh crap. Flinging the thermal detonators to one side, I did a Force enhanced leap from the window to the opposing wall I had just come through, hoping to phase through it again. About halfway there, the window finally failed and the air began to rush out of the room – carrying my belt of thermal detonators with it. Losing my upward momentum, I fired the variable star at the blast door to buy myself a few precious moments while I reoriented my powers again. My aim was a bit off though and I began a swing towards one of the consoles and swung past two of the Sith.
(Sith #1) Is that one of your bioweapons?
(Sith #2) Nope, not one of mine.
I then collided with the console hard. Luckily the armor and my own Force powers prevented me from taking any damage, but I lost precious moments activating another belt of detonators as one of the Sith charged me and made to thrust his lightsaber into my heart. Not having any time to think and reacting more on instinct than anything else, I stupidly backhanded the lightsaber blade with my bare hand. My hand suddenly felt like it was on fire.
SON OF A BITCH!
That hurt like hell. Amazingly I still had my hand. The only damage appeared to be a mild burn mark and a lot of red irritation. Oh and the pain of an intense sunburn on my skin. How the hell did I just do that? I’ve never done that before and had only heard of Valerie talk about it. She never demonstrated it in front of me, and I just did it on what I can only say was instinct. What is going on?
While I was stupidly staring at my hand along with my attacker, the other one recovered enough to grab me telekinetically and flung me into a blast door. I felt my body and head impact and my ribs begin to compress and strain under the force of the push – until I instinctively phased through the door. That sent me flying through another corridor as I heard explosions from the room I just left as the thermal detonators went off. My head stopped swimming again and I found I had come to a stop in a large chamber with what I can only presume was an escape pod system. Then I noticed that I was actually in a vacuum. Hurriedly donning my breath ask, I whimsically considered it strange that it now takes me several moments to realize I was in a vacuum now. I know phasing tends to slow such things down, but still it seems silly to have to take a few moments to realize I am in a vacuum without a suit.
Pushing myself into the escape pod, I did some basic first aid on my arm as I took stock of the situation. My senses clearly indicated that – despite self-protective use of the Dark Side – one of the Sith was fairly seriously wounded, another was somewhat wounded – and one was unharmed. Oh damn; this bunch is just as tough as we are!
They also clearly seemed to think me some bioweapon with a weird set of monotalents. That meant the next time I fought them, use of full Force abilities might well catch them off guard again. Usually Jedi and Sith didn’t have weird talents like that, only techniques. Time to challenge their assumptions again. Cycling the airlock, I entered the corridor leading back to the bridge. One of the two remaining Sith came over the intercom. I recognized his voice as belonging to Ben. Probably the mad super weapons designer Ben.
(Ben) How did you do that? That’s obviously a Force technique, but I failed to detect any Force signature when you do that.
(Kira) And why should I tell you?
(Sith) Obviously not a Jedi, you must be a Sith then.
(Kira) Well I can hardly be what you might consider a typical Sith.
(Sith) Fair enough, now tell us how you do that and we might consider letting you live.
Well drat, so much with surprising them with also being a Force user. That precognition of theirs is good. They obviously know where I am and presumably have weapons and soldiers at the ready to try and overwhelm me – or at least are calling them. I need to catch them off guard again. But how do I do that when they know where I am and have a decent idea of what I am capable of?
Wait a moment, it’s mad-Scientist Ben.
(Kira) Well it’s simple enough really. You use the Force to bind things together in order to facilitate the use of certain techniques. The same is also true in reverse. Disconnect yourself from the Force well enough and you can manipulate your own personal reality to some extent.
(Ben) Interesting. Let’s see the full extent of what can be done with this then.
And Ben then proceeded to disappear from my senses. From the swearing of the other Sith over the intercom, I can only assume that Ben had disappeared in truth and not just my senses. Not a brilliant thing to be doing when next to a galactic black hole either. That’s two down and one to go.
(Kira) Apparently he lacked control.
At which point I felt a painful buzz in my legs as I can only presume the floor was electrified. Levitating for a brief moment, I connected one of the variable star tips to the ceiling and hung there. Thankfully I had the variable stars anchored to the armor and the armor acts as a harness or else I would have had a hard time holding this position for long.
(Sith) You’ll pay for that.
A turret lowered from the ceiling on either side of the corridor and turned to fire at me. That armor plating looked too thick for my blaster to punch through though. Pulling out my shield with one hand and my lightsaber with the other, I blocked the one turret with the shield and through my lightsaber at the other one. That neatly severed the power cable and I pulled my lightsaber back to me with telekinesis. I neatly impaled the other one and was plotting how to kill the remaining Sith when he came over the intercom again.
(Sith) Since I presume your colleagues would be upset if I killed you, would you be willing to discuss terms under a truce? I do have plenty of other weapons if you insist on being killed…
I wasn’t particularly inclined to the idea. If this bunch had used a super weapon once already, they were likely to try it again. The fact that these guys were reasonable enough to actually get one built – and even to develop one that actually worked – only made it a more pressing need to kill the bastard. I was about to tell the guy to shove his terms when Alys and Ben came over the intercom encouraging me to join them in discussing terms. Damned idiots now are so fixated on stealing the super weapon that they can’t recognize a serious threat when they see one. Unfortunately, if I kept fighting, there was a very good chance that they would all turn against me for being “unreasonable”.
Damn it all.
(Kira) Fine, I agree to discuss, but can’t make any promises on the conclusion.
(Sith) Fair enough.
Dropping to the unelectrified floor, I entered the bridge to find it a smoldering mess. The remaining Sith definitely looked injured, but I could also tell his power with the Force and the Dark Side was considerable. A straight fight with them was not to be tried unless absolutely necessary. The others were busily getting Jacob patched up and discussing exchanging all our secrets in exchange for the asteroid when they arrived shortly afterwards… Damn it people, just because the Varen seem like nice people to you guys and this one is willing to talk to save his own hide does not mean that it’s safe to be giving away all sorts of dangerous secrets to these people! Too late now though. I was especially unnerved when the Sith announced he was going to be sacrificing poor apprentices to learn the Codex techniques based on what little theory I gave him earlier.
The local Sith were interested… Without Darth Ben they had their doubts about being able to get anything further out of their superweapon, and this bunch obviously had a lot of useful secrets – and claimed to be able to controllably navigate between dimensions. This was definitely A Ben, but it wasn’t THEIR Ben. If these people wanted the semi-useless superweapon, there was no reason not to let them have it in exchange for that many useful secrets – especially since they seemed to have a pretty fair idea of how it worked anyway and it really wasn’t that big an industrial project. You just needed a black hole to make it work.
Great, now this universe is going to have a Sith mass producing Faded. Ben hopeful speculation that it would lead to sanity I ignored as wishful thinking and naivety. I still haven’t figured out the secrets to keeping the Codex and the Force completely balanced and I suspect a lot of the sanity I have been retaining thus far is because I want to retain it. A Sith is going to have very different motivations to learn the Codex. This guy could potentially become a Sith/Faded hybrid even.
We got the base and a significant amount of the crew in exchange for most of what information we had to give them. Thankfully Ben hadn’t given away the coordinates for our galaxy or the Codifier galaxy at least. I watched the Sith and their favorite people all climb aboard the shuttle and leave once the negotiations were concluded. I was tempted to hit the missile launcher button as I watched them go only for Telera to appear behind me.
(Telera) They negotiated in good faith.
(Kira) They’re also Sith.
(Telera) You were also trained by the Sith.
(Kira) I haven’t used a super weapon to destroy civilization either.
(Telera) The choice is certainly yours, I am just an observer in all of this – although I suspect that any attempt to fire on their ship will set off some kind of self-destruct or otherwise become a disaster, even if the control circuits are working after all your thermal detonators. Would you expect them to walk in front of a gun otherwise?
Well damn. That was probably true enough. The Sith were nothing if not paranoid.
(Kira) And what do you think you are observing?
(Telera) At the moment, the differences between you, Akira, and Dkira, and the similarities.
That made me pause. That woman had the annoying talent to say the right thing at the right time to make you stop and think regardless on how impulsive you wanted to be. The Jedi all had that talent to some extent and Telera seemed to be a master of it. I watched the shuttle depart into hyperspace and hoped I made the right decision. Still I think it best to get some sort of backup plan going for the locals in case something goes wrong. I hate planning like this as I am no good at it. About the only thing that seemed plausible to me was see if the local Kira or Valerie might be open to or worth training. And if Kira wasn’t a major figure in the news here, then that meant he didn’t exist, never left Alderaan, or never left the Academy. I don’t like thinking about the last possibility.
Ben was now talking about bringing the weapon to Coruscant. Apparently he wanted lots of Jedi to help steer the thing when he brought the grid back to this universe and felt that Coruscant would have plenty handy to help out. Personally, I was concerned about the stability of a Coruscant cut off from galactic civilization for months. Ben waved it off with a proclamation that would could probably end whatever war might have broken out readily.
Looking at the super weapon we were now carrying to Coruscant and that fact we had a gleeful Ben proud of his ownership of it, I was certain he was right, just not in the way he thinks.
Ben was slightly annoyed… It really didn’t work as he’d been thinking it did. He’d been thinking it was a colossal hyperdrive field generator that was powered by the jets from the black hole, and that wasn’t what it was at all. This thing… projected a transdimensional hyperspace tunnel directly into a black hole.
How the devil… WAIT. It had drained off… 37,416 standard stellar masses from the black hole. The hypertunnel hadn’t collapsed because there was no energy-balance problem between universes, and whatever leaked would simply be scattered. The event horizon had contracted, and the outer layer of the accretion disk had started to drift away! So that was what had happened… So that had generated some sort of hyperspace disturbance? But wouldn’t a hyperfield be required? But a hyperfield was generated by discharging a steady stream of mass-energy into a hyperspace interface… OH! That was why tunnels went unstable! The mass-energy leaking in and out of them generated a hyperfield around the ends, and that would rip them out of the universe or implode them if they ran for too long! So the generated galaxy-wide hyperfield had augmented the drive fields that were activated at the right moment and enabled a dimensional transition. The effect was tuned by the characteristics of the activating tunnel. And the destination would be complimentary to where the mass was being sent.
Wait, he was missing something there. He’d have to think about it. There’d be time. They’d need a lot more Jedi to steer this thing, and to tune the return tunnel to get their beacons back. They’d need Shipwreck to try and track the link between the two Alys’s too, without getting tangled up with Alternate Alys’s natural link with her home dimension.
Anyway… this base was a LOT like their own. Better shields and sublight engines, facilities for manufacturing a bit worse, biolabs set up a bit more for sapients and a bit less for microlife – but almost identical otherwise. And even with similar numbers of personnel now. Was it simply incredible coincidence, was the Force lazy, or was the convergent principle – if any – just really strong?.
Hmm… there was a version of Xiang too… Another bioweapon, and one being studied because she’d been supposed to be a slightly augmented warrior-assassin who could be easily programmed to relentlessly pursue a target – but every time they woke her up she picked out a target somewhere in the galaxy – apparently at random – and went after them. Could she possibly be a pure agent of convergence?
Kira groaned. Now they’d gotten the damned superweapon – at the price of giving the local Sith yet MORE information – and they were… going to fly it to Coruscant, where they – and what the locals were sure to see as the man who’d destroyed civilization throughout the galaxy – were going to demand that the Jedi come and cooperate with them.
This was getting worse and worse!